Data shows Cleveland officers have only chased 1 suspect in 2021 so far; council members concerned police aren’t pursuing enough suspects

Updated: Mar. 15, 2021 at 9:31 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Are police in your city chasing criminals too much? Or, not enough?

As that discussion continues across Northeast Ohio, 19 Investigates discovered data that shows a stark contrast between local departments when it comes to how often they engage in a pursuit.

We told you last week when city leaders spoke out, saying Cleveland Police are not doing everything in their power to...

Posted by Hannah Catlett on Monday, March 15, 2021

We told you last week when city leader spoke out, saying Cleveland Police are not doing everything in their power to catch the bad guys.

The new numbers from Cleveland Police may explain why councilmembers came before cameras so irate Friday.

“The officers are frustrated. The community is frustrated. We’re frustrated,” Councilman Blaine Griffin said.

According to data from CPD, its officers have only engaged in one police chase so far this year.

You may remember it. It went through downtown Cleveland, ultimately causing an accident that injured an officer.

Meanwhile, officers in smaller surrounding cities have already pursued several more suspects this year.

Here are the numbers as of early March from just a few of the departments we talked to:

  • Akron Police Department, 38 chases
  • Westlake Police Department, 6 chases
  • Newburg Heights Police Department, 14 chases
  • Euclid Police Department, 5 chases

Why the difference?

Cleveland councilmembers say it’s confusion over this city’s chase policy that has officers hesitant to chase at all.

“There’s too much ambiguity,” Griffin said Friday.

A few years ago the Department of Justice stepped in to monitor the Cleveland police department in an effort to reduce use of force cases.

Since then, Cleveland’s chase policy was changed to say officers can only chase with a supervisor’s permission if the suspect is accused of committing a violent felony crime or is suspected to be intoxicated.

“We need to send a message loud and clear. Enough is enough,” Kevin Kelly said. “If you commit a crime in Cleveland Ohio you will be pursued.”

As an even starker contrast to what’s going on in Cleveland, in East Cleveland East Cleveland Chief Scott Gardner says his officers will chase someone for any offense where points are chargeable on a license-- for example, running a red light, not stopping at a stop sign.

“Cleveland’s policy is just so far removed from any other agency that I know of, and that’s where the concern comes in,” Gardner said.

19 Investigates discovered East Cleveland police have chased more than 60 suspects as of the beginning of March.

Gardner says that’s partially because other departments are letting criminals get away.

“Absolutely. I think it’s put everyone at risk honestly,” Gardner said. “They have basically given carte blanche to criminals to simply, if I don’t want to be arrested I can just run from the police.”

At least four of the East Cleveland chases ended with innocent bystanders in the hospital, though.

So which is the better way to police? Could there be a middle ground?

“I would love for us all to be on the same page,” Gardner said. “Whatever the pursuit policy is, I would far rather the entire county abide by it, so there is no misconception of what officers can do. That way the public knows what’s going on.”

We asked the other departments we got data from what they thought of Gardner’s comments.

Chief John Majoy in Newburg Heights gave us this statement:

We reached out to the Cleveland Police about Gardner’s comments and the council members’ concern. We have not heard back from CPD.

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