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Dynamic Duo Councilmen call for help with crime

James W. Wade III | 5/28/2014, 10 a.m.
Reed said, during the phone interview, that he believes city officials need to begin having discussions to find a way ...

In the wake of the crime rising in Cleveland, Councilman Zack Reed and Councilman Jeff Johnson held a press conference on the steps of Cleveland City Hall to discuss the need for the Mayor Frank Jackson Administration to fully staff key safety units including Homicide, Domestic Violence and Gang.

“In light of the violent atmosphere in the city of Cleveland, we’re calling on the administration to fill all the positions in theses specialized units. In 2013, we were below the national average in solving homicides in the city of Cleveland and, so far this year, we’re below the national average in solving 34 homicides,” Johnson said.

“We’ve got a problem of violence in this city, and yet we’ve got units that should be dealing with this issue not filled,” Reed said. They both talked about where the homicides were and it’s not even warm yet.

“Sometime back, the mayor told everybody we have not had an interruption of service. Well, we disagree. Not filling positions is interrupting the service,” said Reed.

Both councilmen shared how they have already set money aside in the budget to fill vacant positions in the police department. Reed made it clear that city council gave the department enough money to hire two detectives in the homicide unit, three in the domestic violence unit, one in the gang impact unit and one in the intelligence unit this year, as Williams requested in a safety proposal he submitted to council.

The city of Cleveland shared information that showed in 1990, detectives solved 80 percent of the city’s homicides. Since then, the rate has fluctuated between 67 and 79 percent. And last year, the rate plummeted to 54 percent, below the national average, which has also steadily declined over the past two decades, to 63 percent. As of this story, 34 homicides logged through May 11 of this year. Only 15 have been solved.

The dynamic duo Reed and Johnson are both speaking out because they feel something has to be done in our community. In a separate phone interview with Reed, he shared how four cases from 2013 in his ward, along East 93rd Street, remain unsolved.

When asked if he thought it was a serial killer in the area he replied no.

“These are just people out here killing and have not been caught yet,” Reed said.

Maureen Harper of the City of Cleveland said their first class of cadets graduated last Friday, and they city will offer them patrol officer positions to increase the force’s visibility as the weather warms.

“We have to find a way to battle these crimes in our city, filling some of these position with seasoned officers will help sooner than later,” said Reed. This past weekend alone, we had seven people shot in one area,” said Johnson.

“At this time, right now, we have had more homicides in the city of Cleveland than we had at this time in the last five years,” Reed told council.

Reed said, during the phone interview, that he believes city officials need to begin having discussions to find a way to reduce the number of deadly shootings. Many of the homicide victims are young African-American males, he added.

The vacant positions that need to be filled are:

Homicide unit: 14 detectives, budgeted for 16

Domestic violence unit: 12 detectives, budgeted for 15

Gang impact unit: 17 detectives, budgeted for 18

Intelligence unit: 5 detectives, budgeted for 6

Crime scene and records unit: 17 detectives, budgeted for 18

Accident investigation unit (hit-skips): 2 detectives, budgeted for 3