Hi, I’m Najee Hall..Community Reporter for Signal Cleveland. On this segment of Walking and Talking, we continue with our conversation on crime. I’m joined by Jerrod Amir Shakir from the Buckeye-Shaker Neighborhood and CJ Hood who lives Downtown. Listen with me as we get both of their takes on crime in Cleveland.

Read a transcript of the podcast below

Jerrod Amir Shakir is a grassroots organizer who has been a lifetime resident of Buckeye-Shaker.
Jerrod Amir Shakir is a grassroots organizer who has been a lifetime resident of Buckeye-Shaker. Credit: Picture provided by Jerrod Amir Shakir

Jerrod: My name is Jerrod Amir Shakir, I live in the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood, and I’ve been a resident here for most of my life.

Najee: What’s your favorite thing about the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood

Jerrod: I think it’s community. The people in it. I think there’s a lot of active, engaged community people who organize with each other. Community developers, organizers, it’s really the people.

Najee: You say your neighbors help make the neighborhoods safe. So what kind of things do y’all do to look out for one another?

Jerrod: We just tell each other what we see. One of us may not be home and things like that. My neighbor has a camera, so they share what they see if something were to happen.

When my car got broken into last year, you know, he provided me with the video of it.

Najee: One of the discussions in the city that’s been going on is policing.
There’s a lack of officers. Officers are leaving the force, retiring early, and they’re having a hard time recruiting a new class. As it relates to crime, do you feel that recruiting more police officers would reduce crime?

Jerrod: No, because police officers don’t reduce crime. We already know that. Police officers really don’t even stop crime, they’re supposed to be detectives who solve crimes per se but usually crimes don’t get solved. When my car was broken into, that really didn’t get solved. I don’t believe that hiring more police officers is the answer. I believe that more opportunities is the answer

Najee: You said that you don’t necessarily agree that hiring more police will reduce crime, but you said more opportunities could help with that. Can you explain what you mean?

Jerrod: What I mean by that is that the likelihood to commit a violent crime or any crime is due to a lack of resources. We can reduce violent crime by providing more resources and opportunities for people so people will feel like they don’t have to do things like that.

CJ Hood is a civic reporter who has lived in  Downtown Cleveland for two years.
CJ Hood is a civic reporter who has lived in Downtown Cleveland for two years. Credit: Picture provided by CJ Hood

CJ: I’m CJ Hood. I live in Downtown Cleveland and I’ve lived there for two years.

Najee: What’s your favorite thing about living Downtown?

CJ: I would say the growing community aspect. Everyone always feels a need to kind of get out and do something and interact with people. I think that’s the coolest part of actually being down there.

Najee: Do you feel safe in your neighborhood ?

CJ: I feel safe. As far as downtown goes, recently it’s felt like more like property damage, cars getting broken into and things of that nature. As far as walking around and stuff like that, you still see people out and about. It still feels pretty safe down there. I think there is this desire to be free. People want to be out. People want to interact with others.

I think that lends to the idea that you’re safe wherever you go. You just wanna be out and about and hanging out with people. You kind of don’t let the violence or whatever else is going on hang over your head.

Najee: What do you think your elected leaders could do to make you and your neighbors feel more safe?

CJ: I think it boils down to making people the priority. When you talk about public safety, nowadays it just comes off like coded language.

When you say public safety, all you hear is more police, increase in police budgets or something like shot spotter or something that presents flawed data. What we need is a higher focus on all of the things that we know lead to crime. We have impoverished people and unhoused folks sleeping outside. There needs to be a higher focus on that to make folks feel a little more safe.

Najee: Thank you for listening to walking and talking. I’m Najee Hall, Community Reporter for Signal Cleveland.

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Community Reporter (he/him)
Najee has been a Cleveland Documenter since it started in 2020. He joins Signal Cleveland from a role as an organizer with New Voices for Reproductive Justice. He leads the Central Community Listening Team.