LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Residents in Lakewood let their voices be heard about recent crimes, including two shootings at Madison Park, during two virtual meetings on April 19.
Lakewood homeowners like Randy Brown made it clear during the Lakewood safety meeting, residents must have a voice and play a role in developing a city safety plan after shootings in March and on April 13.
Brown said he's rallying the outdoor basketball community to have a daily presence at the park and is hoping the basketball hoops, taken down last week, will be returned as soon as possible.
“We can’t just wait and sit for the police to finish the investigation, throw the hoops up and go we got cameras, we got security, we’re good now,” Brown said.
Brown said city leaders need greater transparency, after the police department took the hoops down, only explaining there had been new evidence uncovered in the latest shooting, and didn't explain any further.
Lakewood resident Jon Wager, whose Facebook group "A Safer Lakewood," has swelled to more than 1,200 members told News 5 legislation, more resources and a definitive plan are need to curb crime.
Wagner said the park shootings aren't the only crime events plaguing Lakewood safety in recent months.
“I’d give the Mayor’s office an “F” and I’d give the city council an incomplete," Wagner said.
"We must have our elected officials communicate with members of the community because they can’t know what the community needs without hearing our voices."
“Hiring a safety director, and outside set of eyes and ears that can address this problem from an outside perspective, someone that relies on data and facts and not emotion.”
“We had a stabbing at Around the Corner, outside the bar, we had another gun-related incident, thankfully where no one was hurt where 15 rounds were fired, and then there have been a number of carjackings too.”
Lakewood Ward 3 Councilman John Litten told News 5 he and other council members are issuing safety proposals to Lakewood Mayor Meghan George, including filling all police department openings so more officers can be put on the streets. Litten said council will continue to take in resident input.
“I have joined with some colleges in call for the City of Lakewood in consider hiring a public safety director, separate from the Mayor’s role, and that is not a slight on our Mayor and the job that she has done.”
"We also have these ward community police officers, and some of those positions are open right now. Those have been a wonderful means for the community to access its police force.”
“We also want to do so in a way that doesn’t alienate people from enjoying our parks, especially people of color.”
Litten said there is no imminent plan to craft legislation to address city safety concerns, he's hoping the Mayor will take action on the city council proposals.