CLEVELAND (WJW) – Cleveland City Council is moving forward with a plan that will allow officers from two different police departments to patrol part of the city.
At the request of Mayor Justin Bibb’s administration, the safety committee considered and approved the plan which will expand the jurisdictions of both the Case Western Reserve University Police Department and the University Circle Police Department.
If the plan is fully approved by council, the two departments will begin patrolling side by side with Cleveland Police in Little Italy and a portion of the Glenville neighborhood and Wade Park.
“They want to provide additional security in the entire footprint of Case, and of University Circle Inc. for better police protection,” said Safety Committee Chair and Ward-8 Councilman Mike Polensek.
The move comes after several violent crimes, including a handful of carjackings, and is receiving support from Interim Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond, who said, “I think it’s a force multiplier to have additional folks out there with the same training to enhance the safety of folks in that area.”
During the hearing on the matter, they discussed ensuring that all of the other officers not only have the same training, but body cameras.
Polensek says it will all be privately funded and not a dime will be coming from Cleveland’s coffers.
Council President Blaine Griffin, who represents Ward-6 which includes Little Italy, said that he has been receiving many calls on the measure; especially from parents of children attending CWRU.
“I’ve gotten a lot of calls from parents and others who are really supportive of this legislation,” said Griffin, “The last two events that took place were crimes of opportunity, innocent people unsuspecting and people come and carjack them.”
Also, Ward-9 Councilman Kevin Conwell said that the officers from CWRU and University Circle have already begun meeting with people in the area, “So they can be good neighbors and build relationships with residents.”
People in Little Italy are also reacting positively to the news.
“I think it’s a no-brainer. I think it’s fantastic. It’s going to be that much more protection for the areas,” said Roy Umanzio.
“It’s such a wonderful place here. We just want to come down and feel safe and be out late at night and feel comfortable,” added Tina Salerno-Nielsen, whose family has operated businesses like a pizzeria in Little Italy for decades
However, there are some concerns too; especially right now when the Cleveland Police Department is down hundreds of officers and losing more every week.
“I have never, ever seen it this bad down. 241, that’s like a whole police district just vanished,” said Polensek, who is asking the administration for an aggressive recruitment plan to replace officers before summer and also to readjust the deployment of current officers, since so many will now be covering Little Italy.
“We’re glad to see the expanded coverage, but what about the rest of the city?” said Polensek, “So are you going to readjust deployment? And we heard from the safety director and police chief that they’re going to look at that, so that was what we wanted to hear.”
The measure is expected to go before the finance committee Monday and then before full council on May 9 for a vote.