© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Wayne Drummond appointed 41st Cleveland Chief of Police

Chief Wayne Drummond stands at a podium beside Mayor Justin Bibb, City Council President Blaine Griffin, Councilman Mike Polensek and Safety Director Karrie Howard sitting to his right.
Isabella Keller
Ideastream Public Media
Newly appointed Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond addresses crime reduction, the new Community Police Commission and the plan to retain officers at a Thursday press conference in Collinwood.

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb appointed Wayne Drummond as chief of police in a press conference Thursday at the Collinwood Recreation Center. Drummond has been interim police chief since January and has been part of the Cleveland Division of Police for over 33 years.

Bibb initially intended to conduct a national search but decided to appoint Drummond because he “saw the kind of leader that I wanted to see in the department.”

“Finding a good police chief is hard right now in this country,” Bibb said. “And what I didn’t want to do was waste precious taxpayer resources doing a national search, looking both locally but (also) across the country. But recognizing that I knew I found the leader that I wanted.”

Bibb spoke highly of Drummond's experience, values and ideas, but he cited New Year's Eve as a turning point, when Officer Shane Bartek was killed in a carjacking.

“I remember Wayne's steadiness, his calm demeanor and his persistence to get that moment right. That's when I knew we had a bright shining star right here in Cleveland, Ohio,” Bibb said. “And sometimes you'll need to do a search to find your leader, sometimes that leader finds you.”

In his speech, Drummond reflected on his childhood and growing up in a small city near Montego Bay, Jamaica, where he remembers living in a small house with no running water alongside his grandparents, mother and brothers.

“That's what I grew up in,” Drummond said. “But my mom, you know, back in the late 60s came here to the United States of America for the opportunity for, not just for her, but her three boys. To give us the opportunity to make something of ourselves, which brought us here to Cleveland, Ohio,” Drummond said.

The family settled on East 95th Street and Drummond attended Cleveland public schools, graduating from John Hay High.

When asked how he plans to reduce violent crime, Drummond said he'll use new technology, strengthen partnerships especially with federal law enforcement agencies and learn from other police departments.

But pointing to the recent killing of a 14-year-old who was shot multiple times, Drummond commented on the limits of his department.

“We can stop some things and prevent a lot of things, but how do we stop that?" he asked.

Police, he said, are only part of a solution that includes social services, education, and jobs.

“Of course, for me, it's that family unit and so forth that’s extremely important,” he said. “We have our responsibilities and duties as police officers, but I think it's a much bigger picture and we're just part of that solution,” Drummond said.

Later this summer, Bibb and city council will appoint 13 members to the new Community Police Commission which will have broad powers over police policies and discipline.

Drummond said he plans to work in collaboration with the new commission and wants to show the CPC that “we are holding our folks accountable. But again, equally important, let folks know that when you’re doing the right thing, let’s support them.”

The new chief faces an ongoing problem with staffing shortages due to difficulties with retirement, retention and recruitment.

The issue is a national one, Drummond said. He suggested new financial packages and small changes such as loosening up some policies including allowing officers to wear baseball hats, have tattoos and grow beards should help with officer morale and retention.

Drummond addressed the national reckoning of police misconduct, saying that the vilification of officers is a factor affecting police staffing.

“I’ve said it and I’ll say it again, the vast majority of officers do the right thing. They do. They just want to serve the community, take in a community. They’re heavily invested in the community. They want to do what’s right, and they do what’s right. So that needs to switch, that pendulum. Just come back a little bit and stop vilifying every single officer.”

Izzy Keller is a Summer 2022 News Intern at Ideastream Public Media. She is a rising senior at Ohio University majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. Izzy is a proud northern Ohioan, hailing from both Cleveland and Huron.