CLEVELAND — The FBI is expected to release a report next week that will show the murder rate in the U.S. in 2020 saw its biggest single-year spike in 60 years. But while the problem is national, both men running to be Cleveland's next mayor know the solution will have to be local. Priority one for both Kevin Kelley and Justin Bibb are getting cops on the street.
"Let's start with the very basics, right now we have too many openings in what was budgeted for the Cleveland Division of Police," said Kelley. "And those openings are in the homicide unit, they are detectives for homicide, we have to start solving the crimes that have already been committed otherwise people will continue to commit crimes.
Bibb believes it also means properly using the resources the department has. "In the city of Cleveland right now we have 51% of our cops walking the beat, the other 49% are in desk jobs. I want to make sure at 70% are walking the beat, doing the hard work of community policing all across the city."
Both men are troubled by cases of violent crime that involve young people like the 12-year-old shot and critically wounded near a Cleveland Rec Center this week.
"I have a 12-year-old," said Kelley. "I can sense the horror of the loss that one might feel when you lose a 12-year-old child it is just something that we have to stop treating murder, we have to stop treating shootings as a statistic we have to understand that these are families, these are people, these are lives that are being ruined and taken from us."
Bibb believes one key is providing the city's youth with safe spaces.
"I know what it's like personally to lose a member of my family to violent crime across our city and we need to do a better job of investing in after-school programs for our children," Bibb said. "When I was growing up I was busy at the Boys and Girls Club, I was in church, I was in the library. That's how you keep kids off the streets to ensure they can have a fully productive life in this city."
Both men offered their heartfelt condolences to Mayor Frank Jackson and his family on the loss of the mayor's grandson Frank Q. Jackson in a shooting Sunday night. It was a death that generated headlines across the country from national news outlets. News 5 asked both what message they would have for those who only saw the headlines and asked the question is Cleveland safe for their kids?
"I would say this," said Bibb. "In this election, we have an opportunity to do the hard work of changing the culture of not just our police department but our entire city government, that's why I'm running for mayor. We need new ideas and new solutions to ensure that every community is safe and secure and that's going to be my commitment as the next mayor of Cleveland."
Kelley knows the key to Cleveland's future is tied to public safety and any act of violence hurts that.
"A shooting that happens anywhere in Cleveland I don't care if it's East Side, West Side it affects all of us. It affects all the perception of Cleveland, the notion of Cleveland our property values, just the whole very idea of where do you want to raise your family," Kelley said.