Thirty-two fewer people died in homicides in Cleveland last year than they did the year before, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. As the city ramped up efforts to get guns off the streets, fewer were used to commit crimes in 2008. Says Mayor Frank Jackson: “We’re very disappointed. If one person gets killed, it’s a problem. These are not just statistics. Somebody cared about these people.” In 2008, the city adopted aggressive programs to remove illegal guns from the streets. Police targeted high-crime neighborhoods a few days each month, ran gun-suppression initiatives, and created a Gang Impact Squad.
Jackson also cites the hiring of 150 officers to replace those lost to attrition in the last couple of years, and better cooperation between residents and police, which resulted in more citizen tips about crimes. Efforts to remove guns from the streets resulted in police seizing 1,127 guns through 50 weeks in 2008 compared with 967 in 2007. Jackson said crime could drop even more this year because the police unions agreed to 10-hour work shifts that will put more officers on the street during peak hours. Steve Loomis, head of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, attributed the homicide decline to a calm summer. Fifty-five people were killed between May and August 2007, compared with 41 in 2008. “I am happy about the decline,” he said, “but stats are only stats.”