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Cleveland Police give new directive encouraging officers to consider Diversion Center over jail

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 10:58 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Police Department has issued a new two-page directive for its officers, outlining a policy to handle low-level offenders struggling with their mental health.

It comes more than five months after the Cuyahoga County Diversion Center opened its doors.

The facility is designed to handle 50 patients per night in an effort to provide them with help, as opposed to arresting them and putting them in the already clogged justice system.

“Members who encounter an adult involved in a non-violent and low-level offense, and the individual appears to be or discloses that they are affected by a mental illness or substance use disorder, may offer the individual voluntary treatment instead of arrest,” the new CPD policy says.

Officers must then consult with the city prosecutor’s office for a final determination.

Earlier this month, 19 News discovered glaring numbers that revealed the facility had been underutilized.

According to the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County (ADAMHS), 80 people have been admitted to the diversion center since it launched on May 3.

That number was only 50 on September 24.

Of those 50, half came from just three agencies; Cleveland Police, the RTA Police Department, and Cleveland Heights Police.

As of those late-September numbers, they’re responsible for ten, nine, and six admissions, respectively.

Up-to-date statistics regarding each individual agency are not yet available.

While some departments, like Cleveland Police, are just instituting their policies, others have been ahead of the curve.

“This type of interaction builds and strengthens relations with members of the community,” said Transit Police Chief Deidre Jones.

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