Cleveland police chase policy questioned after officers ordered not to pursue shooting suspects

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Nearly six years after a deadly police chase and shooting led to the deaths of two unarmed people, the Cleveland Police Department's pursuit policy is once again in the spotlight.

The city changed its policy in 2014, after a 2012 chase involving more than 60 Cleveland police cars. The pursuit  ended in a shooting that killed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.

The policy is now being called into question again, after a number of officers have been targeted by would-be criminals.

Five times this month alone Cleveland police officers have dodged bullets, had their squad cars hit, or were dragged.

"All cars, do not engage, terminate that pursuit. 5Sam33. k910, Sergeant Sedlak, this male shot at me, are you telling me to disengage? Is that what you are telling me?" That was broadcast over Cleveland Police radio traffic.

A Cleveland police officer started chasing a car they believed had rammed a squad car on West 73rd and Lorain Avenue the day before.

During that short pursuit, the suspect started shooting at the officer. That's not the only violent encounter.

Officers were standing at house at 7515 Decker Ave. when eight shots were fired in their direction.

"If they aren't respecting us in uniform, in a police car, just think what they are doing when we are not around them," said CPPA President, Jeff Follmer.

Despite the supervisor's order not to chase, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams sent out a message saying officers can chase violent criminals, and those wanted for drinking and driving. The head of the police union says officers needed clarification.

"It was good on the chief to come out. There's inconsistencies from district to district, supervisor to supervisor, even officer to officer about what they can do," Follmer said.

"When you shoot at a policy officer, you are shooting at all of us. Why aren't police officers being instructed to go after?" said long-time Cleveland City Councilman Michael Polensik.

Polensik says he's glad the chief spelled out the policy.

"You have to go after those people. If you can shoot at a police officer, no one is safe in this city," Polensik said.

"We're doing this for the citizens to take the violent crimes off the street," Follmer said.

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