CLEVELAND — Cleveland City Councilman Michael Polensek said he and other council members have received up to 1,200 emails from both city residents, and those living in other cities, calling for the defunding of the Cleveland Police Department in the wake of the Minneapolis police-involved death of George Floyd.
Polensek said many of the emails appear to be from people living out-of-town and part of a campaign calling for more funding to be directed toward community-based policing.
Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley confirmed the large number of emails and said the council is always receptive to input from residents on what more can be done to make improvements.
However, Kelley said the city and CPD are already taking major steps to move toward community police because of the consent decree with the Department of Justice established in May 2015.
"We’ve been moving toward more community policing for a while now,"Kelly said.
“Youth and adult education in our recreation centers, job, and career readiness, as well as everything we’ve done with lead poisoning, infant mortality and declaring racism as a public health crisis."
“But to those who are casually observing, and are fearful that defunding the police means get rid of the police, that’s not going to happen.
Minneapolis city council voted nine to four to defund and disband its police department on June 7.
Dr. Patrick Oliver, Director of the Criminal Justice Program for Cedarville University, and Cleveland's police chief in 1994 told News 5 he understands the call for police defunding across the nation.
“Policing is an important, valuable and essential public service, having said that, the defunding of police is about making major police reform, that’s what this movement is all about,” Oliver said.
“What police look like, how police are funded, what services are provided by uniform officers, what service are civilianized is a local decision.”
"If defunding of police occurs by any government agency, it will probably more less look like a partial defunding of policing services, not a full defunding of policing services.”
“There has been a historic repeated failure to protect civil rights by police, when the community feels there is a systemic problem then they’re going to make some change.”
Meanwhile, Kelley said he's called on Safety Committee Chairman Matt Zone to arrange an informational hearing on what more can be done to improve the Cleveland police department outside the consent decree.