New Severance-area association meets to discuss crime issues

Severance Neighborhood Organization, a new nonprofit with the mission of strengthening and revitalizing the Severance area of Cleveland Heights, held a panel discussion on crime on March 26 in Cleveland Heights City Council Chambers. More than 40 people attended.

The city's Community Relations Department helped plan the event. The panel was composed of Jim Chriss, Ph.D, sociology professor at Cleveland State University and an expert on policing; Cleveland Heights Police Commander Brad Sudyk, and Councilman Mark Tumeo.  

Overall the audience felt positively about the police department, but raised questions about the following topics: poor condition of Milliken school, including broken windows; use of guns in crimes; empty houses; persistent disruptive behavior of kids running through the Regal Cinema during films; sagging pants; loitering; rules for bike riding, jaywalking and cell phone use; running red lights and general incivility. 

The Police Department’s limited accessibility was also discussed: the department has no e-mail address for residents to use, and the phone number for the Police Chief has no voicemail.

Audience members were encouraged to contact the CH-UH school board to express their concern about Milliken School. Sudyk encouraged people to use the non-emergency police number (216-321-1234) and call about any suspicious behavior. He also explained that police would respond to calls about people walking in the middle of the street and groups of people loitering on sidewalks.

In response to concerns about gang-like activity inside Monticello Middle School, audience member Andrés González, Chief of Police for Cuyahoga County Metropolitan Housing Authority, described his department’s involvement in running the G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) program inside some of the Cleveland Public Schools. Sponsored by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, there is no cost for the program other than staff time. González offered to work cooperatively with Cleveland Heights Police Chief Martin Lentz on the G.R.E.A.T. program. Tumeo said he would follow-up on these and other issues raised at the meeting.

Individuals interested in joining Severance Neighborhood Organization or leading a subcommittee are encouraged to call Fran Mentch at 216-381-5356, or visit

Fran Mentch is a resident of the Severance neighborhood in Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 11:04 AM, 03.27.2009