Blaine Griffin to become Cleveland City Council’s next president, visits 19 News studios
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Ward 6 Cleveland City Councilman Blaine Griffin has been selected to become Cleveland City Council’s next president.
A binding caucus vote was held Friday where Griffin received unanimous support.
He’ll officially take the reigns in January at the same time Mayor-Elect Justin Bibb moves into City Hall.
Griffin was elected to council in November of 2017 after being appointed in May of 2017. He currently chairs council’s safety committee.
Griffin appeared on 19 News This Morning to discuss the work facing lawmakers.
He said he’s thankful to his colleagues for selecting him to lead council and stressed that it’s a co-equal branch of government.
“I tell everybody, I’m just first amongst equals. All of us are the same status, but they’ve chose me to kind of lead the charge and coalesce all of our efforts in order to try to move this city forward,” Griffin said.
Griffin said he’s talked several times with Bibb.
“He ran a great campaign and great election,” Griffin said. “I’m going to do whatever we can, as a council in order to try to make sure that we help complement his efforts. But we are co-equal branch of government. We’re going to have our own priorities. We’re going to have our own goals and objectives that we want to meet. So this council is going to have a different identity. We have a great group of people that have institutional knowledge on council. But then we also have a great group of people that can bring new ideas, fresh ideas and innovation to the table. We’re definitely going to work with the administration, because any city that’s been successful, has to have at least healthy tension between the administration and the council in order to try to propel the city forward.”
Bibb has already said work is underway to find a new police chief. He promised a change at the top during his campaign. Current Police Chief Calvin Williams recently announced he’s stepping down. Williams told reporters he always intended to leave his position when Mayor Frank Jackson left office.
Griffin said when it comes to selecting a new chief he’ll leave it up to the new mayor.
“Whoever gets that position, we’re going to work closely with in order to try to have a 21st Century policing model, a guardian model, a model where we actually try to put more bodies on the street,” Griffin said. “That we put more foot patrols on the street, but we also have to embrace more technology.”
Griffin said he would like to work with city and county leaders to tackle the issue of police chases. He would like to look into developing a region-wide chase policy.
“We have too many chases that’s happening throughout this region that’s ending up in citizens being harmed,” Griffin said.
Voters passed Issue 24. It creates a Community Police Commission which will work in conjunction with the Civilian Police Review Board on issues related to police conduct investigations and discipline.
It essentially gives the new commission discipline power instead of the city’s safety director.
19 News Anchor Damon Maloney asked Griffin about navigating relationships with city hall, police and the community in the wake of Issue 24 passing. There’s been threats from the police union about litigation and comments about officers leaving the force at a time when staffing remains a huge challenge.
Griffin said, “Morale is down in the police department. Being a person who knows a lot of the people in the police department, as public safety chair, we have to get our morale back up with our police department. That includes better training. That includes better equipment. That includes making sure that we have the emotional, social-emotional constructs in place in order to support them. But it’s also going to need to be a level of accountability.”
Griffin added, “The voters overwhelmingly voted for that accountability, and we have to support that accountability. One of the things in this job is you have to listen to the voters and the voters have spoken. They want change. They want reform, but they also want safe neighborhoods.”
The Phoenix Police Department hosted a recruiting event, over the weekend, at a Downtown Cleveland hotel. They’re hoping to attract new recruits during a nationwide staffing shortage.
Griffin said these challenges are no surprise.
“It’s always a tough challenge. But that’s what we take these jobs for. Because we take on the complex and vexing issues of our time. At least that’s what my reputation has been, and why I think some of my colleagues chose me to be council president. It’s (going to) be hard to kind of come up with the recipe and the algorithm to make sure that we have a happy police department that’s doing their job in a professional manner, but that the public feels confident and in embrace the police department. We have to restore trust and systems. We have to.”
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