BROOKLYN, Ohio — Three Northeast Ohio police departments received an infusion of cash aimed at fighting growing violent crime in Cleveland’s suburbs.
Governor Mike DeWine announced the grants Friday morning in Brooklyn.
It’s part of a $250 million violent crime reduction grant program approved by state lawmakers.
Brooklyn police will receive more than $181,000 to increase patrols in violent crime hot spots. The police chief said much of that will focus on rising violent crime in the I-480 and Tiedeman Road corridor.
Orange Village police received nearly $240,000 to purchase a camera system for the village.
The largest grant went to Garfield Heights which is set to receive more than $1.3 million.
Garfield Heights Police Chief Mark Kaye called the money a blessing.
Kaye said the department plans to offer officers a retention bonus equal to 10% of their pay. Additionally, he said they are aiming to begin a crime analytic program that focuses where crimes are happening so officers can get ahead of the violence in the city.
“Over the two years of the coronavirus pandemic, homicides were up over 100%,” said Kaye. “The amount of guns we confiscated off the street doubled.”
To Noemi Ortiz, those aren’t just numbers. Her daughter, Daytona Thomas, was murdered in Garfield Heights last August.
“It hurts,” said Ortiz. “It’s a deep down pain. Daytona did nothing to deserve this.”
Ortiz said the deadly shooting shattered her notion of safety in the suburbs.
“The suburbs used to be the safest place to live, you know what I'm saying?” said Ortiz. “But crime is spreading. rampantly.”
It’s why suburban police chiefs said the extra grant money was badly needed to fight criminals who don’t stop at Cleveland’s borders.
“Anything they see, we see,” said Kaye. “And the same in Brooklyn and Orange. Everything kind of bleeds over so if you see it in Cleveland, it's a problem in the suburbs as well.”
It’s a crime problem that Ortiz said needs to be fixed.
“Everyday you've got three, four, five murders,” said Ortiz. “For what? what are you killing each other for? That's the big question.”
She said she doesn’t know if the extra grant money is the answer. But, she believes that if it saves one life and keeps one mother from living her hell, it’s a step toward fixing a plague she called out of control.
“It's crazy, it really is,” said Ortiz. “And it's sad.”
The man charged with murdering her daughter is undergoing treatment after he was found incompetent to stand trial in the case.