Cleveland City Council Members Talk Police Mini-Stations, Investigative Units

Cleveland City Council members Blaine Griffin, Matt Zone and Michael Polensek talk with Sound of Ideas host Mike McIntyre. [Ohio Channel]
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The head of Cleveland City Council’s safety committee said that staffing frontline patrol officers takes priority in the city’s police hiring plan, but that neighborhood-based mini-stations could be possible down the road.

Councilman Matt Zone, the safety chair, spoke Monday morning with fellow Councilmen Blaine Griffin and Michael Polensek on the Sound of Ideas. The three also talked about staffing special units that investigate killings and sex crimes.

“Already right now, we have a depleted frontline plan,” Zone said. “We have a depleted car plan, not fully staffed. We are trying to ramp up there. Down the road, in 2019, at some point, 2020, could we open up a few mini-stations? I think we could, and I think we should as well.”

The city did away with mini-stations amid police budget cuts and layoffs in 2004. A dozen council members signed a letter this month asking to reopen them.

“If you have an effective mini-station program, you can do a lot in the neighborhood,” Polensek, one of the signers, said. “You can do a lot of intelligence. You can do a lot of interaction with the residents. Talk about community policing, there’s no better tool than having mini-station officers.”

The city plans to hire around 300 new officers this year, Police Chief Calvin Williams told council last week. With retirements, the hiring push is expected to bring a net of about 250 to the force.

Figures given to city council last week show that the homicide and sex crimes units are down nine people each from this year’s budgeted goals of 23.

“What I’m more concerned about is how we make sure we staff up special units,” Griffin said. “Sex crimes, community service units, vice units, narcotics units. Because the way that we are policing our community is not just as simple as visibility. We need people that really understand intelligence-led policing when we work on this.”

Zone said the city needs to staff up basic patrol positions first before filling special units. He said he’d like to bring the chief back for a hearing on those units.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that the homicide and sex crimes units are down eight people each from their budgeted goals. In fact, they are down nine people each. 

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