Annette Mecklenburg to become CH's first female police chief
As of Feb. 2, the Cleveland Heights Police Department will have a new chief. On Feb. 1, Jeffrey Robertson will retire as police chief. The following day, Annette Mecklenburg will be sworn in, becoming the first female chief in the department’s history.
Robertson, 55, has served as chief for five years, and spent 34 and a half years on the force. Mecklenburg served as captain for a year and a half before being named chief. She has been on the Cleveland Heights police force for 25 years, and has lived in Cleveland Heights for more than 20 years.
The three candidates for chief underwent a testing process and interviews with city administrators. Cleveland Heights City Manager Tanisha Briley made the decision to name Mecklenburg the city's new police chief.
“Having been here so long,” said Robertson, “Annette has an understanding of how the department works, and she knows the personnel and the city.”
Mecklenburg was born in Willoughby, grew up in Strongsville and graduated from Strongsville High School. She attended Bowling Green State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice. She graduated in May 1990, and in October of that year she was hired by the Cleveland Heights Police Department.
In 2000, Mecklenburg received a Juris Doctor degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
As the new chief, Mecklenburg said she wants to continue to improve both the police department’s relations with the community, and police training programs.
“Our training program emphasizes the community along with the rules and regulations,” said Mecklenburg. “We’re going to continue to put more of an emphasis on the community [we] serve and who is in that community.”
Mecklenburg noted that the police staff is immersed in training throughout the year. In addition to learning about enforcement of the laws, Cleveland Heights officers also learn about diversity, special-needs and autistic people, and first-aid. “We are going to continue to have one of the most well-trained departments in the Cleveland area,” Mecklenburg said.
She added that the department will continue its community-outreach programs, including the Meet Your Police program, the Citizens Police Academy and the Community Response Team.
Mecklenburg also wants to continue efforts to reduce crime in Cleveland Heights. According to Robertson, crime statistics in the city have diminished steadily since 2011.
“There are a lot of things I have to consider,” Mecklenburg said. “I’m sure that eventually there will be some changes in the department, but I am not sure what they will be at this time.”
James Henke, a Cleveland Heights resident, was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine for 15 years. He is also the author of several books, including biographies of Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bob Marley. He is on the board of FutureHeights, and is co-chair of the Heights Observer Advisory Committee.