Most Interesting People: Luis Cumba

Cleveland Police captain

Age • 55

Why he’s interesting • During the day, he helps people in Slavic Village take back their streets. At night, he takes back his own. Two homes on his street in Cleveland’s Kamm’s Corners neighborhood were rented to drug dealers. He stayed up late, took notes and organized neighbors to collect enough evidence so police would have an easy time making arrests. “I moved into this neighborhood 26 years ago because one of the first people I arrested lived down the street,” he says.

It worked • Six people were arrested. Cumba called police regularly and took on the offenders using the court system. Though it was technically police work, he never even considered filling out a time card.

Before he was a cop • Cumba always wanted to be a police officer. His father was murdered when Luis was 23, but that’s not what motivates him. “I wanted to be a big part of the community. I didn’t just want to be a police officer. I wanted to be the best.”

Most realistic TV cop show • None. “What happens on TV is not what actually happens.”

Biggest gripe about TV cops • “Why does the FBI always end up in charge on television? They don’t take over in real life.”

His most interesting person • Sam Miller, co-chairman of Forest City Enterprises, who gives selflessly to police causes and convinces his influencial buddies to do the same.

Would you encourage your son to become a cop? • “I became a policeman because that’s what I wanted to do. You have to really want to be one. I would not encourage him to go into police work, but if it’s what he wanted to do, I wouldn’t dissuade him. It’s not like it used to be. It’s not a desired field anymore. Police get scrutinized too much and it’s not safe. Too many policemen are getting shot, injured and killed nowadays.”

On the job • Cumba was one of the first on the scene during the shooting at SuccessTech High School in Cleveland, responding within three minutes of the shooting. About 16 officers arrived at nearly the same time. Cumba says the quick response of the men and women put a swift end to the event. The only person killed or seriously injured was the shooter, who took his own life as police arrived.
Share this story: