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Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb promises 'all-of-government' approach to crime

justin bibb
Matthew Richmond
Ideastream Public Media
Mayor Justin Bibb announces plans to combat summer violent crime during a press conference at Trent Park in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood on May 21, 2024.

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb is promising an “all-of-government” approach to crime prevention this summer while deploying many of the same law enforcement strategies used last summer to address violent crime.

“This year’s summer safety plan builds on the great success we’ve seen with our R.I.S.E. initiative,” Bibb said Tuesday, while a group of more than a dozen city employees, including police and other first responders and members of his cabinet, stood behind him at Trent Park in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood.

The Raising Investment in Safety for Everyone, or R.I.S.E., initiative was launched last year. It included raises for police officers; expanded partnerships with federal and state law enforcement; increased the use of technology like the gunshot detection system ShotSpotter and surveillance cameras; and moved police officers to 12-hour shifts to help ensure patrols are fully staffed.

The city often sees an increase in violent crime during the summer. Last year, there was an enormous spike in homicides in May, when 25 people died, 2.5 times the 7-year-average for May, according to police data. The next two months also saw a higher-than-normal number of homicides, before dropping below the average for the rest of the year.

So far this year, violent crime is down nearly across the board compared to this point last year. There's been a 31% drop in homicides; 4% drop in robberies; 7% drop in shootings; and a 27% drop in car thefts, the data show.

“We hope we can continue that progress,” Bibb said.

This summer, the city will target areas with higher violent crime rates, a tactic known as “hotspot policing.”

The police department is very familiar with where those areas are, said Interim Public Safety Director Wayne Drummond.

“From my 35 years in the city of Cleveland, the hotspots are pretty consistent,” said Drummond. “We’re going to concentrate our efforts, all-of-government approach, not just police.”

The police will use a combination of warrant sweeps, where officers go out to find people who have arrest warrants, increased traffic enforcement, partnerships with highway patrol and federal law enforcement over the summer and focused patrols in hotspots, said Deputy Chief Ali Pillow.

“After we do all these enforcement actions, we will send our community engagement back into those neighborhoods,” Pillow said. “To either explain to the residents what we did and to get feedback from the residents — is this working for you? Did this impact anything?”

The city also plans to address quality-of-life issues, like illegal dumping or overgrown lots, in neighborhoods where the increased enforcement is occurring.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.