Cleveland | Community fights to save commander's job

CLEVELAND -- On Tuesday he is Cleveland Police 2nd District Commander Keith Sulzer, the much-respected leader of police in on Cleveland's near Southwest side.

Wednesday he will be come Capt. Keith Sulzer, working in community policing outside of the second district. He'll be replaced by Commander Tom Stacho.

The decision was made by new Cleveland police Chief Calvin Williams and has sparked an outcry in the neighborhood and at Cleveland City Hall.

A press release termed the change a "resignation."

But those who know Sulzer say the word "forced" should be added to be completely accurate.

Council members whose wards are served by Sulzer asked Cleveland Safety Director Mike McGrath to reject his resignation.

Other petitions are calling on Mayor Frank Jackson to step in.

City Council President Kevin Kelley says Sulzer has been an engaged, involved and committed leader in the district.

"People love him. This is a guy who gives his cell phone number to residents," Kelley said.

Sulzer is best known for community meetings and for his visits into the community to open lines of communication between residents and police.

Councilman Brian Cummins says he met with Williams but got no definitive answers. He is among many who is convinced the resignation was not voluntary.

"He would not walk away from being commander of the 2nd District. That's not Keith Sulzer. Clearly something has happened in regard to personalities, culture or what the new chief wants to see. Why people are so angry is the way it happened," Cummins said.

Councilman Joe Cimperman believes there should at least be some explanation beyond a perfunctory press release.

"What did Commander Sulzer do wrong? He didn't do anything wrong. We owe everyone an explanation because this is not about Commander Sulzer but about the community he serves," Cimperman said.

Tuesday night, residents rallied in front of the 2nd District headquarters to support Sulzer.

Jackson's spokeswoman, Maureen Harper, said the mayor supports Williams' decision.

Sulzer supporters requested that he be kept in the 2nd District. That request was rejected, apparently because of problems it might present for new Commander Stacho.

Several sources told Channel 3 News there have been personal issues between Williams and Sulzer. They indicated a performance evaluation of Sulzer may have been involved.


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