19 Action News Investigation: Sharp drop in arrests and tickets

19 Action News Investigation: Sharp drop in arrests and tickets

We've found a sudden, sharp drop in the number of people Cleveland Police are arresting. Even the number of traffic tickets is way down.

So we investigated: did crime drop sharply in a matter of weeks? Or could this be tied to some officers getting fed up with taking heat for being too aggressive?

We checked crime stats since late November when Cleveland Police started coming under fire. At that time, an officer shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Then the Department of Justice issued a report saying Cleveland Police use too much force, and protesters took to the streets repeatedly.

Since then, traffic tickets are down 19% and arrests are down 13%  from the same period a year ago.

Privately, many veteran officers are demoralized by so much criticism coming to the department lately from different angles. But a union leader told 19 Action News there's no organized police slowdown, and the head of the minority police group the Black Shield backs that up.

We also looked at this a different way by using records from the Cleveland Clerk of Courts. Charges filed for lesser misdemeanors are down 19%. However, charges for more serious felony cases are down only slightly at 8%. So clearly, police are still getting really bad guys off the streets.

Lynn Hampton of the Black Shield told 19 Action News, "Sometimes when there's scrutiny or eyes on you, you find yourself really getting on top of your game."

But why have some of those numbers dropped so much? No clear reason.

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