Security cameras stolen from west side neighborhood as residents call for more police

CLEVELAND - Cleveland residents living on the city's west side near Fulton Road say their neighborhood has been a target for crime over the past three days. Sergio Gonzalez says that since May 6 his street has suffered three break-ins, his neighborhood store was robbed at gunpoint, and his neighborhood security cameras were stolen.

Repeat: the security cameras were stolen.

Gonzalez and his neighbors believe more police officers are desperately needed.

"When my security cameras were stolen, police response time was two hours, and dispatch told me there's no cars available," said Gonzalez. "We need help, there's a lot of people getting hurt, the crime rate is ridiculous."

Rebecca Kempton lives across the street. She believes a shortage of police officers is a real safety risk.

"People are scared, they're afraid when they find out that their neighbor's cameras were taken down," said Kempton. "We need to have the additional police officers that the tax levy paid for. Residents paid for this."

Cleveland councilman Michael Polensek believes the city administration has done a poor job responding to dropping police staffing levels after a large number of officer retired over the past two years.

"They failed miserably to anticipate the need for officers," said Polensek. "The criminals know that the police are not out there patrolling, the numbers are not out there they once were."

Cleveland councilwoman Dona Brady crafted a letter that called for the re-opening of police mini-stations across the city. The letter signed by 12 Cleveland council members and sent to the administration.

Brady believes greater policy visibility is critical to improving neighborhood safety.

Cleveland is set to have an additional 70 officers graduate from the police academy and patrol streets this year.

Polensek said the chairman of the Cleveland Safety Committee doesn't believe police staffing levels will be restored until 2020.

It's a forecast that has Kempton and her neighbors extremely concerned.

"We feel that we have to have cameras just to protect ourselves, because we don't feel that there is adequate safety," said Kempton.

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