CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association called for the removal of Director of Public Safety Karrie Howard who terminated five officers and suspended another in the last week.
The union said the discipline comes as the department is down 130 officers.
“A lot of these officers that got suspended, a lot of these officers that (were) terminated are really good officers,” said CCPA President Jeff Follmer. “They all have time on the job. They have done their time in the streets. They dedicate themselves to the city of Cleveland while the city of Cleveland turns their back on them.”
The four officers fired for separate incidents are:
- Patrol officer Katrina Ruma, 52, was hired in 1998. She was last assigned to the Fourth District.
- Patrol officer Michael Guion, 41, was hired in 2013. He was last assigned to the Fifth District
- Patrol officer Samuel Ortiz, 50, was hired in 2007. He was last assigned to the Second district.
- Patrol officer Chanae Donitzen, 29, was hired in 2019. She was last assigned to the Second district.
- Patrol officer John Kazimer, 53, was hired in 2000. He was most recently assigned to the Ordnance Unit.
Read the city's release on the termination of the officers here.
"When you look at these things like how did that officer, what could (he) have done to get suspended? The facts don't always fit the discipline," Follmer said of the punishments, which include lengthy suspensions, against officers who just want to do their job and go home to their family at night.
Follmer said Howard’s actions are fueled by the monitoring of the Department of Justice and their quest for discipline.
“Department of Justice is no good for the city of Cleveland right now. It's all about discipline."
Follmer called Howard a DOJ "puppet."
"They got their man to do their dirty work, and he's doing it right now," said Follmer.
The focus on discipline from the Department of Justice and Howard are felt in the department, Follmer said, explaining how supervisors are afraid to make calls and do their jobs all the while morale is down.
Follmer said the citizens of Cleveland suffer with the firing of officers in a department that already has officer shortages.
The union said the city’s leaders are too quick to fire officers in a time when there is a shortage of them within the department and violent crime and guns in the hands of juveniles are rising.
"Our headlines, we’re proud of the fact they’re firing police officers," said the union's attorney, Henry Hilow. "Is that the answer? Is that what leadership’s about? From an absent mayor? From a safety director who takes pleasure in firing people? Is that what the response is?"
Hilow continued, "Now we're firing people and we can't even hire people.”
News 5 has reached out for statements from Cleveland City Hall and the Department of Justice’s monitoring team.
The City of Cleveland said a statement would be issued later Thursday.