First 100 days: new Cleveland mayor’s priorities on public safety

Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 10:39 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Cleveland’s new Mayor Justin Bibb marks 100 days in office this week.

It’s a new era, after 16 years of Mayor Frank G. Jackson running the city.

Mayor Bibb recently sat down with five of our 19 News reporters.

We’re highlighting questions that matter most to you, our viewers, throughout the week.

Monday, we talked about his promise of transparency.

Tuesday, Investigator Sara Goldenberg highlighted the mayor’s vision for public safety.

We found public safety is top of mind for Cleveland’s new mayor.

“I truly believe Cleveland could be a national model in the country, on not just thoughtful and effective law enforcement, but really leading the way on bringing more accountability to policing,” Bibb said.

His first 100 days in office are now complete.

But Mayor Justin Bibb still has one major item on his agenda to move his vision forward.

We asked him where his administration is in the search for the next police chief.

“Well, we are in the process of finalizing an executive search firm that will work with my leadership team here at city hall to search locally and across the country for a police chief that shares my values around social justice, around transparency, and around building a police department that I know that my father, who was a police officer, would be proud of,” Bibb said.

Citizens, officers and city councilmembers have been asking for some time now whether the department has enough officers to keep the community safe.

At a public safety committee meeting at the end of March, councilmembers asked about CPD staffing, which has been a concern for some time.

CPD officials told councilmembers there are currently about 1,400 officers with Cleveland Police and the city budgeted for 200 more officers than that.

Some councilmembers on the committee said they’d like to see even more than that, between 1,800-2,000 officers.

We asked Mayor Bibb his plans to address staffing and whether he has the same goal as city council when it comes to those numbers.

“We need to think very hard about the right level of deployment that we need to keep our streets safe. I don’t believe anybody, anybody in the city should live in fear. But I also don’t believe that more police is the solution,” Bibb said.

The mayor pointed out the city needs to do a better job of keeping and attracting police.

“We want to make sure that we have competitive pay and competitive benefits to attract and retain the best officers that shares my administration’s values around justice and around responsible policing,” he said.

He said he’s seen firsthand what officers are up against.

“I did a ridealong last week in the Fourth District with an amazing officer and the diversity of calls that we responded to shows me that officers are well trained in many cases. They’re very empathetic, but they can only do so much,” Bibb said.

Violence in Cleveland has been a big concern.

An uptick in homicides over the last few years continues to tear apart families.

“We must look at every lever of government to make sure we can crack down on gun related homicides in the city, because one is way too many,” Bibb said.

That’s why the mayor said it’s time for a new city-wide approach.

“I don’t believe that we can only deploy a public safety-only lens to solve violent crime. We need more economic investment, better parks, better recreation center programming to ensure that every neighborhood has the opportunity that they deserve,” Bibb said.

When Justin Bibb was elected mayor he vowed to make sweeping changes to the city’s police department.

Investigator Kelly Kennedy will dig for answers about police reform Wednesday at 6 p.m.

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