Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Archive for March, 2014

Second District Commander Sulzer Steps Down WHY???

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To Mayor Jackson, Safety Director McGrath,  Flask and Chief of Police Williams:

If your intent was to make the citizens of the Second Police District feel unsafe you achieved your goal.

Last night, I went to bed uneasy knowing that now when the drug dealing on both sides of my home becomes intolerable I no longer have Commander Sulzer to email to let him know about the increased activity both day and night. I am sure that replacement Tom Stancho is a fine and capable person, but you see it takes years to gain the trust of a community. We had a Commander who had the trust and confidence of his community built on years and years of serving us well. You don’t simply interchange that kind of person with another cog in the wheel.

Knowing that Commander Sulzer would use the information that I forwarded to him from myself and others so that we would again have a quieter, more peaceful existence was a constant reminder that we were safer and more secure with him at the helm.  He used the information we gave him to deploy his officers effectively and efficiently

This morning, I woke up before dawn realizing that I wasn’t as safe as I was yesterday because Commander Sulzer no longer leads our team of police officers who protect and serve my community.

You have taken from us a man who was a true leader.  He knew that being a policeman was much, much more than commanding his troops. He knew that enlisting the help of the community to be his eyes and ears was essential to our well-being as a community. He knew that working together was how we would all be safe and secure.  He made sure by being visible in the community and being part of our social fabric that we would continue our daily lives with a surer step- a little bit more confident that our decision to make Cleveland our community of choice was a good one because hw was a member of the team..

Yesterday, I had hope in achieving our community’s  goals because we had a very sturdy rudder to guide us through some, at times, pretty heavy seas. Today, my councilman Brian Cummins along with other leaders in my community are demanding some answers on why such a devastating decision was made that will harm our community. And, I no longer have the optimism and confidence I once had.

Unfortunately, in my heart I believe I know the answer to this devastating turn of events-politics. I have heard that the decision to demote a commander lies with the police chief.  I have no reason to believe that this decision was made any differently.  We will be given a rash of statistics and reasons as to why this demotion and disgrace of the best police commander I have ever known was a needed outcome of events in our community.  But, I say to you that Commander Sulzer is the best commander to ever serve in the City of Cleveland because former Second District  Commander Greg Baeppler ,who has always been my comparison when sizing up our police force, told me so.  I have always believed that Commander Baeppler speaks the truth, and through the years, I have learned for myself that his statement is true.

I am saddened to think that this decision was probably made for a much more personal reason than “the good of the community” although I am sure that crime statistics will be the official reason. Looking at statistics can be misleading and are  not a good way to evaluate the strength of a police force and its commander. Recently, I have seen reports of crime being “up” in the second district. Subtle hints in the media to show that we are not as “safe and secure” as we perceived,   targeted specifically for us to doubt ourselves.  Has anyone ever reasoned why this may be?  Could it be that more people report crimes because they are confident that something will be done, that their complaints are taken seriously, that the new way to deploy officers is to strategically place them in areas with more reports of incidents of crime works but only because people report crime?  Did the very rules devised to make us “safe” cause the one thing that will make us “unsafe”?    

Reasoned decision making and good judgment are traits that any good leader should have but are especially crucial for a police chief or those who choose that leader.  On the surface, the decision to force Commander Sulzer to resign and accept a demotion appears not to be seasoned, reasoned or based on sound judgment, so why was it made? Tell us.

The Second District community deserves answers and not only should one of our elected representatives ask, but all of our councilmembers should be asking this question in unison.  If it is one thing I know about my friends and neighbors, we will write letters, we will make phone calls, we will stage protests until we get the answers we deserve regarding the untimely and ill- conceived demotion of Commander Keith Sulzer. We will demand answers.

I will not go so far as to suggest that this decision should be reversed because heaven knows that takes a true leader who knows it is better to reverse a decision than to ride it down to the end.  Of course, when decisions are made by a “lame duck” administration it isn’t that administration that lives with them but the community that will be left to pick up the pieces.

Council leaders should certainly question why the Police Chief made this decision and demand concrete evidence to show why it was made. It is time for council to show true leadership and not allow a lame duck administration to continue to make decisions that will affect our lives long after it is gone.

Friends living in the 2nd District or anyone else who lives in Cleveland and cares about our relationship with our police force should call and express our thoughts about Commander Sulzer to the following people and numbers: Police Chief Calvin Williams 216-623-5005; Safety Director Michael McGrath 216-3716; and the Mayor’s Office 216-664-3990.

How strange that a few short months ago I worried that Commander Sulzer would be promoted to police chief and we would lose this fine man to the greater good. Never did I dream that we would lose him for  reasons that are so very wrong.

 

Has the “War on Drugs” Failed?

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I’ve always thought the term “war on drugs” set the wrong tone. It was a “war” set to fail.  I dated a DEA officer in the 70’s shot in the back when he entered a known drug ring’s apartment.  They never found the partner who did it, who decided the money on the other side was too hard to resist.  He told me that he thought it was futile as long as there were people to buy there would people to harvest and sell.

So, depleting demand should change the need for supply in theory.

Mansfield is correct until there is a bed for every addict needing and wanting it with the help to find a job (usually a futile attempt since there is probably a felony record in the person’s past and when there are 5 people for every job available not much chance of it happening) and a reason for staying clean, usually reconnecting with a family worn down by years of promises broken, law enforcement will be asked to clean up the messes so they are kept out of sight, not eradicated.

And now, with the added, addiction caused by prescription painkillers, who wouldn’t go to the cheaper and more readily available heroin on the streets?

I think I finally get why the drug dealers in my neighborhood are so busy at 8 am and 5 pm- a steady stream of SUVs and late model cars pull up, a driver or passenger hops out, knocks on a door or talks to a kid on a bicycle, and 5 minutes later they pull away.

And, before you say that law enforcement does nothing, let me tell you that the battle rages on in my neighborhood and across the city. But, just like the potholes in Cleveland there are priorities, many cases just wouldn’t make it to court and if it did because of overcrowding of jails, treatment facilities, the penny ante dealer will soon be back  on the streets.

Until we treat drug addiction as a SOCIAL ill instead of a criminal one, I don’t think much will change.

 

Written by Gloria Ferris

March 5th, 2014 at 12:02 pm