Cleveland cops must walk their beat each shift for an hour, mayor says
A new patrol initiative aims to tamp down on gun violence this summer
By Olivia Mitchell
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Mayor Justin Bibb is requiring uniformed police officers to park their patrol cars and walk through neighborhoods to talk with residents for an hour each shift.
The initiative began late last month, an attempt by Bibb to address the spike in gun violence in the city. Bibb told reporters his plan Tuesday with Karrie Howard, the city’s safety director, and Wayne Drummond, the interim police chief.
“We are requiring every officer working in the first and second shift to do at least one hour of walking the beat to make sure we have active presence in our communities across the city this summer,” Bibb said.
The push addresses one of Bibb’s campaign promises to “get officers from behind the desks” and on the streets to meet residents. It also comes at a time when gun violence in the city continues to increase, especially among youths.
Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer reached out to the Bibb administration on how long the plan will be in effect. It also sought the reaction of top officials of the Cleveland’s Police Patrolmen’s Association, the union of the rank-and-file officers.
Mister Jackson, the president of the Black Shield Police Association, which represents African American and minority officers, said he wanted more information about the plan before addressing it.
Bibb is implementing the plan amid a shortage in the ranks of the department, as resignations and retirements dropped the number of officers to below 1,400. The department seeks to have 1,600.
Bibb and top police officials hope the move develops trust and decreases violence.
“It’s just building relationships,” Drummond said. “And it’s important for people to see us outside of enforcement. But we’re not taking away from the response when someone calls 911.”
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Drummond is familiar with the move.
When he worked as a commander in the Fifth District, his officers would park their cruisers along East 105th Street and Superior Avenue and walk north towards St. Clair, he said. Officers would then stop in stores and meet neighbors.
If patrol units are too busy to stop and meet with residents, community police officers will take over their colleagues’ roles and spend time with residents.
“We take all that into consideration,” Drummond said. “We’re not losing any service to our community when we require the officers to actually park their cars, get out and engage the community.
“For example, if the First District was really busy on first shift, but there is a mandate that we have a park-and-walk. That mandate can go to our community services unit.”
Cleveland Councilman Richard Starr, who represents Ward 5, commended Bibb on the move. He said top law enforcement officials should have to walk the beat, knock on doors and get to know the community, as well.
Starr is also wary of the location where officers will spend their time. He wants them to walk and meet residents in areas of gun violence.
“They should park and walk in neighborhoods where people don’t feel safe,” Starr said. “Not in Midtown or Downtown, but on streets like East 30th and Cedar, and East 63rd and Bundy.”
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