Police chiefs talk crime prevention with local residents
CH Police Chief Jeffery Robertson speaks with UH Police Chief Steven Hammett and CH resident Hugh Fisher.
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Cleveland Heights Police Chief Jeffery Robertson would have stood out, even if he had been in plainclothes, as he mingled with the crowd at the June 20 Meet the New Police Chiefs event.
At 6 ft. 8 in., Robertson naturally drew the crowd’s attention when he entered Cedar Fairmount’s Myxx, where the event took place.
Hosted by FutureHeights, Meet the New Police Chiefs was an opportunity for locals to learn firsthand, from both Robertson and University Heights Police Chief Steven Hammett, the directions in which they are taking their departments.
Both chiefs are relatively new to their positions. Robertson was appointed in December 2010, while Hammett was appointed last July.
Each gave a brief speech outlining new initiatives their departments are taking, how their departments interact with others, what they are doing in terms of community outreach, and what the community can do to help the police.
One of Hammett’s major initiatives is to revise the way in which the University Heights Police Department investigates sexual assaults. University Heights currently has no female police officers, which makes gathering evidence and statements from rape victims difficult.
As for Robertson, issues surrounding juvenile crime made up a large portion of his talk.
He stated that reports of “kids walking in the street” were the most frequent complaints that his department received, and that it holds a zero-tolerance policy for teenagers who block streets.
Robertson has also installed cameras in business districts and other areas in which young people frequently congregate, to help catch troublemakers.
Youth crime has been of particular concern for many Cleveland Heights residents since last summer, when large groups of teens showed up at the Coventry Street Fair and created disturbances.
In attempts to prevent a recurrence of this, both Robertson and Hammett said their departments research and monitor social media.
As for the 6 p.m. curfew in the Cleveland Heights business districts that was put into place after the events at Coventry, Robertson said it is “working well” and that he will recommend to CH City Hall that it be left in place.
Robertson denied allegations that the curfew was causing crime to migrate elsewhere, claiming that, if teens were congregating in residential neighborhoods, they likely lived nearby.
Throughout their speeches, both chiefs reminded the audience how important citizens are to police work.
Robertson said, “If we don’t have citizens interacting with the police, [fighting crime is] a losing battle.”
He encouraged residents to attend the Cleveland Heights Meet Your Police meetings, which take place every Thursday, from 6-8 p.m., in the lower level of Cleveland Heights City Hall.
James Helmsworth is a senior majoring in English at Oberlin College. This is his second summer interning for the Heights Observer.