CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson addressed the city’s rising violent crime trends on Wednesday, stating that the city has a “high probability” of setting a yearly record for homicides.
Jackson was joined by Cleveland Safety Director Karrie Howard and Chief of Police Calvin Williams. The officials held a news conference following a violent Fourth of July weekend in Cleveland that had 14 shootings throughout the city.
To date in 2021, there have been 88 homicides, up from 63 this time last year. Jackson noted that 2020 set a record for homicides in the city. Williams added that shootings within the city have nearly doubled and the number of felonious assaults has increased 43%.
To combat the rise in violence, Cleveland Police has utilized a task force previously assigned to enforce coronavirus protocols to address violent crime. The Violent Crime Enforcement Detail confiscated 151 guns in May and June, Williams said. The task force has conducted 200 arrests to date, he said.
Since the start of the year, Cleveland Police has confiscated 1,700 firearms, Williams said, which is up from 900 at this point in 2020.
Despite the jump in violent crime, Jackson says current task forces assigned to tackle violent and drug crimes are showing results. He said the accessibility of guns needs to be addressed.
“That is an immediate thing that can happen, not the long term problem of traumatization of young people in communities or better educational opportunities or dealing with the issues of employment,” Jackson said, adding that he is not blaming guns.
Williams urged the community to continue reporting crimes and providing information to assist officers. Williams said that he received a number of calls during the Fourth of July fireworks about large gatherings and that information was shared with members of the task force.
While he said 14 shootings during the holiday weekend were 14 too many, Williams claimed the number could have been much higher.
“Had our folks not been out there shutting down these large events, where we know there are numerous weapons available — and when you combine alcohol, bad things happen — that number would have skyrocketed,” Williams said. “We need our community’s help. If you see something, say something.”