CLEVELAND (WJW) — Violent crime is on the rise in Cleveland, which is why Mayor Justin Bibb and Cleveland police are making a call-to-action for residents to get ahead of this issue that is costing the lives of many young people.
“This is a community-wide effort and government cannot do it alone,” Mayor Bibb said.
But the mayor vowed the city will use every tool at its disposal to help keep children safe.
Police Chief Wayne A. Drummond referred to a recent tragedy in which a 7-year-old girl was shot in the head as a breaking point.
“A 7-year-old baby — and yes, a 7-year-old is a baby — was shot in the head in her home; her safe haven,” Drummond said. “That should shock you to your core, as it does me.”
He said police are investigating the shooting and actively looking for a person who may have left the home with the weapon used in the shooting.
There have been 67 homicides so far this year in Cleveland. That’s up from 63 by this point last year. That’s why Mayor Bibb and Chief Drummond are calling on the community to step up.
“This has to be a community approach,” Bibb said. “To the residents of Cleveland: If you see something, say something. If you see something, say something.”
The police department will be adding five crime analysts, one for each district, to look at crime trends, allowing the city to administer proper response such as more patrols. It will also be working periodic violent crime reduction details to track down suspects wanted for violent crimes.
Drummond also said police will continue to use the ShotSpotter system, which he said has helped find a dozen shooting victims. Drummond also called for residents to call and report gunfire if they hear it.
“I have a job and a duty, and we have a job and responsibility and duty to make sure we get individuals off our street that are committing these crimes; that are killing folks in our community. That’s my job and responsibility,” Drummond said.
With schools letting out for summer, Bibb said it’s important to make sure that parents are aware of resources to keep their kids out of trouble. Cleveland recreation centers have free programs such as dance, ballet, visual arts, theater and ACT/SAT prep.
Bibb also said Hoops After Dark will return, tryouts for which will be in June.
Bibb wants parents to keep a close eye on their kids, even if they are coming of age.
“I know when I was growing up, when the street lights came on, I had to be in the house,” Bibb said. “But I was busy from sunup to sundown. We need to make sure that every child in Cleveland is busy from sunup to sundown doing something productive.”
Bibb and Drummond are also stressing the importance of people resolving conflicts without resorting to gun violence. That, they said, is one of the root causes behind the jump in homicides.