By Neil Fischer
City of Cleveland officials will address concerns over an increase in violence, police recruitment issues and more this morning at the first-ever “Public Safety Summit.”
You can watch live coverage on WKYC’s YouTube channel.
“We have to ensure that our communities are safe,” Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance Executive Director Myesha Watkins told 3News.
The alliance is a community-based organization centered around violence prevention. It provides family services and employs “outreach workers, including some former gang members” to keep youth away from gang activity, according to their website.
In 2023, there have been at least 113 homicides in Cleveland. That number is up nearly 18% since this time last year.
Other violent crimes are on the rise as well, including grand theft of motor vehicles. 3News learned that there are at least 4,196 cases of the crime. That number is up nearly 89% from this time last year.
“Those numbers are extremely heartbreaking,” said Watkins. “In all aspects of safety, we are struggling in the City of Cleveland.”
On Wednesday, Mayor Justin Bibb, Police Chief Wayne Drummond, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 8 President Jim O’Malley, and Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Jeff Follmer will meet to discuss staffing issues within the department.
Items on the agenda include retention, recruitment and deployment of officers in the Cleveland Division of Police.
Bibb’s office points to several partnerships working to prevent violence in Cleveland. This includes partnerships with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshals and the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Last week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a “surge initiative,” which combines the resources of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target “known criminal hot spots.”
In a two-day operation last week, local, state and federal agencies made 52 felony arrests, seized 16 illegally possessed firearms, and recovered 12 stolen vehicles in Cleveland’s 4th District.
3News reached out to both union representatives on Tuesday and was told there would not be a comment until after the summit.
“Public safety is paramount to everything else we do here at City Hall, and investing in those who protect us every day is critical to achieving our goals,” Bibb said in a statement given to 3News.