Violent crime against women in Cleveland is going up, and murder in the city is reaching record numbers. As a result, Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed has begun arming women with pepper spray and portable panic alarms.
"When you look at the fact that we are at 40 murders right now, that is moving us at well over 100 homicides in the city of Cleveland," Reed told News Channel 5. "We've got to do things right now that will put us in position where this number of 100 homicides in the city is not our barometer.”
Reed represents the neighborhoods of Mt. Pleasant and Union/Miles. He plans to announce a $2,500 grant from Wal-Mart to a neighborhood nonprofit, which hopes will provide personal defense devices and training to women in the area.
"We're giving notice to women in Cleveland that you have to watch out for yourselves," Reed said. "I'm trying to arm them with tools to keep them safe."
The bodies of three women have been found in Reed’s ward over the past few months. An attempted rape was also reported in the area. Police Chief Michael McGrath reportedly said the crimes are not connected.
The money should provide 180 panic alarms and 70 cannisters of pepper spray. Most people have heard of pepper spray. Panic alarms are electronic devices that can be worn around the neck and emit an ear-piercing noise when a button is pushed. Reed said he plans to buy a variety of panic alarms that "when you pull it — like a hand grenade — it makes a loud screeching noise that can alert neighbors or passing motorists."
Reed himself made headlines after he was arrested March 5. He is scheduled to go on trial Aug. 15 on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. Reed, 51, he has pleaded not guilty. He has two prior convictions for drunk driving — one from 2008 and another in 2005.