CLEVELAND — As Kevin Kelley and Justin Bibb were greeting supporters Tuesday night in celebration of their primary victories, Cleveland police were on scene of a drive-by shooting that wounded six people at East 28th Street and Cedar Avenue. The latest in a string of violence in the city. To start the month of September, the city had 109 homicides this year a 20% jump over last year, 376 rapes up 27% and more than 2,000 felonious assault up more than 13%.
Both mayoral hopefuls believe this needs to be the top priority of the city's new mayor.
“Lowering crime is the most important issue in this election,” said Bibb. “As mayor I'm going to be focused on having a more thoughtful data-driven approach to better deploy our officers so they're walking the beat and being visible in our community but also doing the hard work of truly reimagining what policing should look like because until we have more opportunities in our neighborhoods we're going to continue to see violent crime all across our city.”
His opponent agrees.
"This is going to be the absolute most important issue because if we as a community do not get safety right nothing else really matters. We need to make sure that every person feels safe in their home on their street and in their neighborhood. The fact that this is a national issue doesn't matter, it's a Cleveland issue and we need to solve it immediately," Kelley said.
But can addressing crime and policing be done though with the same police chief and hierarchy in place now or does an entirely new leadership team need to be brought in.
"I'm committed to bringing in my own police chief,” Bibb said. “And I think the first thing I need to do is truly reset the table and build a new culture not just in our police department but in every single department inside city hall."
Kelley for his part says his options remain open.
"That's the thing about being the mayor those things are all possible you have the authority to put together a leadership team to put in place division and what you want to have happen in the police department,” Kelley said. “So yes those are absolutely things that can happen on day one."