New CH mayor should champion police department

I moved to Cleveland Heights in 1972. Looking back over 49 years, I’ve had the opportunity to reap the benefits of living in an integrated community that celebrates its diversity, and a community that has supported its public schools by (usually) passing levies. (Full disclosure: I worked on three of those levies.) 

Over that half century, I watched East Cleveland become a “minority-majority” city overnight, due to blockbusting—and I saw how the Heights Community Congress stopped real estate agents from doing the same thing here. I also saw our police department evolve from being an “occupying army,” with little civilian oversight, to a department run in a more progressive manner.

Certainly, there are still flaws and challenges. As a Black male, I’m well-aware of the fact that there are unwritten regulations governing DWB, and, like so many other families of all colors, I’ve had family members who’ve met police officers under circumstances that were warranted and unwarranted.

CH Police Chief Annette Mecklenburg knows we need more minorities on the force and in leadership positions, but there are larger, societal reasons making it difficult to recruit minorities to serve as police officers. Those same societal forces still foster a distrust of the police amongst people of color—that is, until we need them. 

I don’t have any “macro” solutions to fix the problems with policing across the U.S., but I do have some ideas about what can be done in Cleveland Heights.

For the first time in 100 years, we are about to elect a full-time mayor. Our new mayor will also carry the title of safety director, with a mandate to speak harsh truths when and if necessary. I want our new mayor to champion our police department whenever possible. I also want our new mayor to spend time in the schools, encouraging minority students, in particular, to consider a career in law enforcement and the law. 

If the above is to happen, we need a mayor who has spent time in courtrooms, a mayor who has a demonstrable history of actually running large organizations, a mayor who can stand in front of students and command respect, and a mayor who has a passion for equality and transparency.

There are four people campaigning to be mayor of Cleveland Heights. But only one of them has the experience to fulfill my wishes, and that is Barbara Danforth. 

Reginald Evans

Reginald Evans, a 47-year resident of Cleveland Heights, is actively involved in the schools and is a former member of Reaching Heights.

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:15 PM, 07.01.2021