CLEVELAND — On Thursday morning, Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb removed the interim from his top cop's title and named Wayne Drummond the City of Cleveland's 41st chief of police. The announcement comes more than seven months into Chief Drummond's tenure at the top of the Division of Police in which the veteran law enforcement officer continued to impress others through his humanity and humility, Mayor Justin Bibb said.
You can watch the announcement in the player below:
In a well-attended announcement Thursday morning, featuring top CPD officials, Safety Director Karrie Howard, Council President Blaine Griffin, Safety Chairman Mike Polensek as well as leaders of Cleveland's faith community, Bibb announced Chief Drummond's appointment, praising the new chief as a 'public servant — not a politican.'
"I knew I found the leader that I wanted. Because of that judgment, because of that experience, because of that leadership that I have seen Chief Drummond exhibit over the past 6 months, it led me to come to this conclusion," Bibb said.
On the campaign trail last year, Bibb had expressed interest in the city embarking on a nationwide search for a new chief to replace former Chief Calvin Williams. However, early into Drummond's tenure as the interim police chief, he and then-Mayor-elect Bibb were both thrust into the challenges of their respective offices when Shane Bartek, an off-duty Cleveland police officer, was murdered during an attempted carjacking.
Bibb lauded Chief Drummond's candor and steady hand in guiding the department — and the city overall — through the New Year's Eve tragedy.
"I remember Wayne’s steadiness, his calm demeanor and his persistence to get that moment right," Bibb said. "What I didn’t want to do was to waste precious taxpayer resources doing a national search, looking both nationally and across the country, but recognizing that I knew I found the leader I wanted."
Family, friends and fellow officers remember Cleveland police officer Shane Bartek:
Drummond, who has spent 33 years at the Division of Police in a litany of different roles and leadership positions, said that when he was a rookie patrol officer, he never envisioned becoming police chief. A native of Jamaica, Drummond and his family moved to Cleveland when he was a child. Drummond graduated from John Hay High School before getting his degree at the University of Toledo.
Councilman Mike Polensek, the chairman of the City Council's Safety Committee, applauded Bibb's decision to appoint Drummond.
"He’s a technician. He understands the rank and file and he understands our neighborhoods. He was the commander out here for years. I worked with him for a long time. I think it was an excellent choice," Polensek said. "When he worked out here, he had a very close working relationship with the citizens. I saw that first hand. They wouldn’t refer to him as Commander, they would refer to him as Wayne."
City Council President Blaine Griffin also lauded Bibb's decision but also said that no chief will be able to go at it alone.
"He’s a technician. He has institutional knowledge of the police department but he is also willing to embrace innovation, which is going to be critical," Griffin said. "He’s not going to come in and provide messianic leadership and change the fortunes of this city by himself. We’re going to have to do this as a collaborative."
Chief Drummond's appointment comes as the Division of Police continues to try to clamp down on violent crime while also attempting to bolster its ranks. Bibb said so far this year, gun-related homicides have declined nearly 18 percent and homicides overall have declined 12 percent. The recruitment and retention of CPD staff, however, has been even more challenging.
According to a News 5 analysis earlier this month, roughly a quarter of CPD officers have left the department since the start of the pandemic. A total of 404 officers left the division between Feb. 1, 2020 and May 4, 2022. Of those departures, 46 percent retired, 37 percent resigned, the remaining 17 percent left for medical reasons or died. More than 40 officers left the Division of Police for other suburban police departments, including Bay Village, Brunswick, Strongsville, and Solon.
RELATED: 1 out of every 4 Cleveland Police officers has left the job during the pandemic
Drummond noted that recruitment and retention have been issues that departments across the country have had to contend with in recent years. Furthermore, the Division of Police not only has to compete with suburban police departments but also large urban departments like Columbus.
"In Columbus, you can make $106,000 as a patrol officer — that’s before any overtime. They’re trying to come up here to the city of Cleveland to steal our officers. I think it speaks volumes to the problems that are going on," Drummond said. "[When I first applied to the department], there were about 4,500-5,000 people that sat to take the test. One of the last tests we just gave, there were only 300 people."
In the short term, Drummond said he is taking advantage of the "low-hanging fruit" by implementing small policy changes to help boost morale. Last week, Drummond said he signed off on a new policy that would allow officers to wear ballcaps while on patrol. Additionally, officers may be permitted to have and display their tattoos, as well as sport facial hair and beards.
In May, News 5 anchor Danita Harris interviewed Drummond, whose journey to chief of police started in Jamaica, before his family came to Cleveland to live at Cedar and 95th, a home his mother still owns.
RELATED: Q-and-A: From Jamaica to Cedar and 95th to interim police chief: Wayne Drummond's journey of community
"No running water, no electricity. Outhouse, and the kitchen itself was also just a little shack. That's what I grew up in. We caught our water by rain barrels. That's what I came from. So mine is a story to let folks know that anything is possible. Anything is possible," Drummond told Harris.
Watch portions of that interview: