Cleveland Council Questions Safety Budget

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Clevelanders voted to raise the city income tax by one half percent in 2016 and city council is holding hearings this week to duscuss where the money is going. Members of the Safety Committee had some hard questions for Police and Fire Divisions.

The Fire Department plans to buy a new fire engine and a new ladder truck this year as well as hire more firefighters. While council heaped praise on the department several members questioned whether women and minorities were being discriminated against in hiring.

Hiring in the police department is too slow for councilman Michael Polensek when about 100 officers retire each year. And he argued crime is getting worse.

"I don’t see how you’re going to get a hund… You’re going be lucky to get 150 on the street this year and we have no indication as to how many are going to retire."

Police chief Calvin Williams said he would have up to 1600 officers on the streets by 2019. And he said violent crime is down.

"Homicides, felonious assaults, aggravated robberies, B&E’s, everything except rape. So are there things going on here in the city of Cleveland we want to stop? Absolutely. Is the sky falling like everybody is saying? No."   

One budget item pleasing to council is the estimate that transferring all city prisoners to county jails will save Cleveland about $5 million a year.

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