Gun violence: How Cleveland police are working to solve the city’s never-ending problem

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 7:27 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s not just a problem in Northeast Ohio, it’s an issue nationwide.

The unfortunate truth is that Cleveland still ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in the country for gun violence.

But as local officials continue their efforts to stop the violence, this is the big question: What exactly is being done to curb the problem?

Chief Wayne Drummond has seen the violence first-hand during his tenure with Cleveland Police.

Now as Cleveland’s police chief, the 30-plus year veteran has the task of trying to curb the violence.

Age and gender aren’t immune to these incidents, and he says that’s the disturbing part to the different crimes he’s seeing, whether it’s a carjacking, or an accidental shooting.

“It’s easy for people to settle their scores or whatever issues they’re having with a handgun, cause it’s so easily accessible. That’s gun violence,” Drummond said. “You know, it’s not the traditional gun violence that people think of when you know there’ s someone’s coming to robbery or homicide and so forth, so it’s this the accessibility of guns that’s just extremely troubling and hard to get over.”

But how can officers do their jobs efficiently, if there are less cops?

In the last two years, Cleveland police have lost 386 officers, whether by resignation or retirement.

As of March 2023, there are just under 1,300 officers on the force, while the city has a budget for 1,500.

Drummond said he doesn’t think having a lack of officers’ contributes to the increase in crime.

“No, I don’t believe that because it we don’t have as many boots on the ground as we had previously. That’s the cause of the elevation of homicides. I don’t think the two go as correlation and go hand in hand,” Drummond said.

According to data from Cleveland police, homicides were actually down just over 9% last year, with 16 fewer deaths than in 2021.

But so far in 2023, the number of homicides are on the uptick.

And where does Cleveland rank in terms of violent crimes in Ohio?

With the big three cities, based on 2019 data from FBI, Cincinnati had 64 murders, Columbus 81 murders and Cleveland, had a whopping 92.

So, in an effort to bring those numbers down, Drummond said more help is on the way using old school methods and new school technology.

“We use the shot spotter technology detection technology to help us identify areas where we have ‘shots fired’ calls, because what we found based on our statistic is that I think sometimes people become kind of accustomed [to gunfire], so they don’t call. Whereas with this technology, the gunshot goes off and the technology hears it,” he said.

Chief Drummond also said his department is going back to “beat cops” to be more visible in communities and to deter would-be criminals.

“Each district, each shift, with exception of the night shift, they’re required, to get out their cars and to go into neighborhoods and business areas and actually engage people,” he said.

It’s a heartbreaking predicament when you have to engage with families, to let them know that their loved one has died from a gun crime.

For Drummond, it’s a heavy cross to bear.

“If you’re a victim or if someone’s a victim of a homicide, obviously conveying to their families that we really feel for them,” Drummond said. “Obviously can’t tell them that we know how they’re feeling because we can’t. And also let them know that we’re doing all we can to obviously help them out and just make our community safer.”