3News Investigates obtained records showing that in the last five years, Public Square has been home to over 427 crimes.

CLEVELAND — For generations of families, Cleveland’s Public Square has served as the enchanting center stage for many holiday memories.

But along with the lights and sounds of the season is the stark reality that Public Square is a target for crime.

“There’s no better place to enjoy the holidays than downtown,” Senior Vice President of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Ed Eckhart said.

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But what if we told you that same center of our downtown skyline isn’t always so jolly?

Cleveland Division of Police records that 3News Investigates obtained show in the last five years, Public Square is home to over 427 crimes. Here is the breakdown:

  • 35 sex offenses.
  • 66 robberies
  • 78 menacing reports
  • 184 assaults

In October, a 39-year-old man was fatally shot in Public Square after a group of people were participating in a dice game when the victim was approached by a male suspect, who shot him, according to police.

“You know, Marisa, those things happen,” Eckhart told 3News Investigator Marisa Saenz. “In our experience, 99% of the time those violent incidents happen downtown, it’s between people that know one another.”

Eckhart told 3News the violence shouldn’t deter visitors from holiday cheer.

“I don’t want to kind of brush it off as it’s not something that people should be concerned about,” he said. “It’s not where somebody should be concerned that, ‘Hey, if I decide to go downtown and look at the lights, something’s going to happen to me,’ just because, you know, it happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

For Clevelanders who shuffle in and out of Public Square themselves, the reviews on safety are mixed.

“There’s crime everywhere,” said Marylee Stang, who we found walking through downtown. “About six o’clock is the latest I’ll come. I feel safer during the day.”

“I feel like you have to keep an eye on your surroundings because you never know who is doing what or what an agenda is or what their intentions are,” Jameel Winfield added.

Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond believes downtown safety is a collective agreement among multiple agencies, thriving best when all hands are on deck.

“It’s much larger than what the police department can do,” Drummond said. “It’s a combination of our partners, whether it’s federal, local, county, state, whatever the case might be [and] trying to find what the right answer is to reduce the crime that takes place.”

Even with police headquarters just one block away from Public Square, Eckhart said the extra eyes are there, including a new substation in Tower City for Cleveland police, safety experts and downtown Cleveland alliance ambassadors.

“People should have no concern about coming downtown and enjoying. Especially now”, Eckhart said.

The new substation is also a starting point to address the homeless in Public Square.

Eckhart said the launch of that new space is to work with Cleveland police and local organizations to get them the resources they need, not only to keep downtown clear, but for their safety as well.

More from 3News Investigates:

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