CLEVELAND (WJW) — Shortly after the Cleveland police union announced the results of a vote of no confidence regarding public comments made by Director of Public Safety Karrie Howard, Mayor Justin Bibb said he had full confidence in his ability to lead the department.
Earlier this week a total of 906 votes were cast: 868 votes of no confidence and 38 votes that did have confidence, according to union officials at a Wednesday morning press conference.
The vote happened after Howard made comments the union called racist.
During a discussion about the beating death of Tyre Nichols, Howard told the crowd that the Irish, “flooded safety forces to the point where we have bagpipes and kilts and all of this green.”
He went on to say that, “racism is in the DNA of America,” and that, “there is a certain type of person who has historically applied to be police officers.”
Howard has since apologized for the remarks, saying that he has the utmost respect for everyone who serves the city.
Bibb said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon Howard’s comments “upset and angered many in our community.”
He went on to say:
“I hear your frustration and I respect your concerns.
As the son of a police officer and firefighter, I have the utmost admiration and gratitude for the work that our first responders do. I hold the professionals who bravely serve our city in the highest regard, and this is a situation that we take very seriously.
We simply will not tolerate discrimination of any kind in any department in this administration.
As you know, Chief Howard has issued an apology and I believe that apology is sincere. As many of us who do our work in the public eye know, there are times when we make errors in judgment and fail to express ourselves well.
Chief Director Howard works hard each and every day to keep our city safe for all residents. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience and is committed to accountability for himself and for the department. There are countless challenges that his guidance has helped us to navigate successfully, and I have full confidence in his ability to continue to lead the Department of Public Safety.”
Bibb ended by saying it’s a situation “we can learn from and that we will continue to have hard conversations that help us build bridges and heal divides.”