Group of religious leaders criticizes Cleveland police union’s plea to fire the city’s safety director

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 8:12 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A group of religious leaders has fired back at the Cleveland police union in support of the city’s safety director.

The Cleveland Clergy Coalition (CCC) called the union’s plea to terminate Cleveland Public Safety Director Karrie Howard “appalling.”

“It’s an atrocity to this city as well as to our people,” said Bishop Eugene Ward, during a press conference at city hall Wednesday.

Those words came just days after the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association called to have Howard fired, criticizing him over the recent firing of five officers.

“They dedicate themselves to the city of Cleveland while the city of Cleveland turns their back on them,” Jeff Follmer, president of the CPPA, said Thursday during a press conference.

Follmer called Howard a “puppet” pushed by the Department of Justice to unfairly discipline the police department.

But, members of the CCC said Howard is simply doing his job.

“It is important that we have people in their positions that don’t mind doing their jobs. Karrie Howard is doing his job,” said Bishop Ward.

Follmer said 13 officers have been terminated from the Cleveland Division of Police in the past year, that violent crime is way up, and that the department is struggling to hire new recruits. He said the department is currently down about 130 officers. He also said department morale had reached an all-time low, putting the blame on Howard.

The Cleveland Clergy Coalition said it reached out to both Howard and Follmer in an attempt to sit down with both sides and find out what concerns each are having. The group is currently waiting to hear back from both parties.

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