By R. Calhoun
Tuesday, January 21, 2021, might have been cold outside, but the City of Cleveland’s Whole Council Zoom meeting Click here to listen was on FIRE!
Public Safety Director Howard was on the agenda and in the “hot seat” for five ordinances presented for legislative approval, but was met with “passionate pleas” to affirm the validity of the associated programming.
Would the approval of the funding actually help the residents of the City of Cleveland? A lack of credibility seems to follow the Cleveland Police Department these days along with a spirit of no confidence from the community.
Frustration was evident in the voices of the council members and the police department. When was the last time you saw a traffic stop or a speed trap (radar stations?) The community is wondering why we are not able to resolve safety issues that are years old, going back as far as the crack cocaine days in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
The question is, what do we need to do to make Cleveland safe?
There is a generation of adults who have never experienced safe streets in Cleveland. Credibility might be the answer. “Street Cred!”
Two councilmen, Kevin Conwell and Joe Jones, were passionate about a lack of resolution of safety issues and wanted proof that the funding Safety Director Howard wanted and needed would be effective, and also if it had been in the past. Conwell beat the drum that business cannot and will not continue as usual.
Councilman Conwell would not give up the mic to president Kelly until he and his peers understood the gravity of the situation. “I need help!” said Conwell, who grew up in the Glenville area. He named the streets where the drug activity has gone on for years, and said he was going door to door to ask his constituents what they knew about drug activity. “All I have is a mask,” he said, “I don’t have a gun or body armour” implying that there has to be more that police can do.
Councilman Joe Jones expressed his hurt over losing a young man who was working every day, providing for his handicapped brother and drug addicted mom, yet this young man was fatally lost to gun violence. Jones recounted the ineffectiveness of the police when his own niece had been strangled and killed. He also pleaded to the council and the Mayor to address these safety issues, saying he was willing to help and put it all in writing. Councilman Anthony Hairston echoed Jones’ and Conwell’s concerns.
Chief of Police Calvin Williams had one of his officers go over the stats to show how effective the police department has been with the funding from the four ordinances in the previous year. Williams also expressed that it was more than a policing issue.
Newly appointed Safety Committee Chairmen Blaine Griffin said that we need to look at this holistically and until we do that nothing is going to change. Councilman Joe Jones asked, “what are other cities doing that have been successful in preventing and resolving crime issues?”
The Mayor, the Cleveland Police, City Council, and the community might want to look toward a place that was number one in violent crime and gun fatalities just five years ago, and now is 12th on the list. That is our neighbor in the midwest, “The Windy City,” Chicago. What have they done to go from number one in the country to dropping out of the top ten? Street credibility? There are two programs Cleveland might want to check out, one of which is already here.
Cleveland Documenter is a mirror of the program in Chicago. Neighborhood Connections, is hosting the program funded by The Cleveland Foundation.
The Neighborhood Connections team, Tom O Brien, Lila Mills, Lawrence Caswell, Rachel Dissel, and Gwen Garth are the administrators of the program. When the program was announced 324 people signed up. Although it was a Zoom meeting you could feel the energy and passion. A team of 191 trained Documenters and 46 active and paid citizens in the Northeast Ohio area are paid Documenters who review government meetings (virtual, of course) throughout the city and county.
For more information: Click here.