Violent crime No. 1 issue for Clevelanders in mayoral election year

Cleveland’s 177 homicides in 2020 the most since 1991
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Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 2:06 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Cleveland Council President Kevin Kelley has a cause for the increase in violent crimes.

“(It’s) the proliferation of guns the like I’ve never seen it before,” said Kelley.

Kelley’s 13th Ward witnessed the shooting of seven people at The Spot on Pearl Road at Brookpark, an illegal after-hours club. Kelley said the club has been shut down, the landlord has received a citation, and Cleveland police have made one arrest with more coming, according to Kelley, to send a message.

“We’re going to continue with that one until everyone who was involved is held accountable,” said Kelley, mentioned as a possible candidate for mayor.

Former Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed has already announced his candidacy, at the time discussing the issue of crime.

“You can’t talk about public safety when you don’t have the ‘men in blue’ that are able to go out there on that front line,” said Reed.

Another announced candidate, Justin Bibb, a non-profit executive, addressed the culture at the police department at a recent Ohio City Zoom meeting

“I’m going to have a zero-tolerance policy as mayor as far as changing the culture of our police department,” Bibb said.

Kelley said the city needs more police on the street, the force depleted by attrition, while he supports more technology to fight crime.

“Where we have police cameras, they provide evidentiary quality images and they have proven to work,” Kelley said. “They have proven to decrease crime where they are deployed.”

But Kelley’s main focus would be working with kids --

“We’ve all heard this phrase, ‘We can’t police our way out of this.’ Well, it’s true,” Kelley said, who supports hiring social workers at recreation centers. “We need to get to youth, we need to get to people. We need to stop violence before it happens. We need to make sure that we’re dealing with what kids are dealing with.”

All the candidates call for change.

“We need new leadership,” said Reed.

“If Chief Williams can’t abide,” said Bibb about retaining the current Police Chief, “he will not serve in my administration.”

Mayor Jackson hasn’t announced if he’ll run for a fifth-term as mayor while Cleveland Ward 7 Councilman Basheer Jones and former Congressman and former Cleveland Mayor Dennis Kucinich have expressed interest in seeking the office.

The mayoral primary is Sept. 14 with the top two vote-getters facing off on Nov. 2.

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