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Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association to hold vote of no confidence for Safety Director Karrie Howard

Monday's scheduled vote of no confidence comes after the union says Howard made "blatant bias" comments about the Irish history of the police department.

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association (CPPA) has announced that they will hold a vote of no confidence emergency directors meeting on Monday, Feb. 13, at 1 p.m. for Cleveland Director of Public Safety Director Karrie Howard. 

The scheduled vote of no confidence comes after the union says Howard made "blatant bias" comments about the Irish history of the police department during the "Not another Memphis" public forum at The Word Church on Monday. 

"Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association will not accept an apology from Director Karrie Howard. The only just solution to his blatant bias would be termination," wrote CPPA President Jeffrey Folmer in an announcement posted on the union's Facebook page.

Posted by Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association on Friday, February 10, 2023

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Howard was asked during the event at The Word Church how to get young men interested in the police department. He responded by saying that descendants from Ireland have been historically applying for safety positions.

"The Irish flooded the police departments. The Irish flooded fire departments. The Irish flooded safety forces to the point where we have bagpipes, kilts, and you know all this green when we celebrate it," Howard added.

On Friday afternoon, Howard provided the following statement to 3News:

"I want to address concerns regarding comments I made on Monday night during a panel discussion at The Word Church. First, I want to apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended by my remarks. I have the utmost respect for all who serve this great city and I appreciate the feedback you have given me.  

"During the panel discussion, I attempted to use a historical point to illustrate how a group of people created a culture of change by becoming part of the institution they sought to reform. These comments were intended to convey sincere admiration for the Irish Clevelanders who shaped our city by being the change they wanted to see—a point that I failed to fully articulate. Again, I deeply apologize for any pain or offense these comments have caused.  

"During my career in the military and as a prosecutor, I have had the privilege of working with diverse people from all walks of life. I have served alongside members of nearly every faith, nationality, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. I hold a deep respect for every single individual who answers the call to keep our city and our country safe.  

"As the city’s safety director, my focus is on addressing concerns in the community, finding solutions that create a bridge of trust between the community and police, and improving the safety of the City of Cleveland. The Bibb Administration is committed to police reform, accountability, and the safety of our residents. Together we have taken several steps to address racial bias in the workplace, including mandatory cultural competency training for all public safety employees, all with the goal to foster a biased free workplace. Discrimination of any kind, against anyone, will not be tolerated.  

"Good law enforcement, accountability, and a change in culture is needed for effective police reform to be successful. Cleveland’s police reform agenda can be a model for the nation, with multiple layers and mechanisms for police oversight including the Consent Decree, Office of Professional Standards, Inspector-General, Civilian Police Review Board and Community Police Commission. I am excited to work with the new Community Police Commission to create a safer Cleveland for all residents. It is only together, in all our diversity, that we can we bring about the reforms we need and the safer city we want."

The Greater Cleveland Police Emerald Society issued a statement calling Howard's comments at The Word Church "confusing and inflammatory," adding that his statement "appears to provide a false narrative that the Irish are racist."

3News' Neil Fischer spoke with Capt. James O'Malley, who is the president of the Cleveland Fraternal Order of Police. He's also the latest in a long family line of police officers who are Irish. O'Malley says he was shocked to hear Howard's remarks.

"We need police officers, regardless of whether they're Irish, Polish, German. Regardless if they're African American or Hispanic, we need police officers. We need people who are interested in this job," he says. 

Howard called O'Malley to apologize directly. Howard's role within the city is to handle punishment within the Cleveland Division of Police. Punishment is something that many believe Howard deserves. 

The fallout from Howard's remarks at The Word Church is not the first time he has drawn criticism from Follmer and the CPPA. In 2021, Follmer called for Howard's firing after four CDP officers were terminated and one was suspended. "Karrie Howard needs to be removed from office," Follmer stated at the time. "It's quite clear in our view he's on a political agenda to only make his resume by our discipline." 

According to the Facebook post by the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, the results of Monday's no confidence vote will be announced on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 11 a.m. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on Feb. 3, 2023.  

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