Cleveland Police chief defends department’s use of pursuits, seeks to modify policy with DOJ

Published: Aug. 8, 2023 at 6:09 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Some Cleveland City Council members are asking why police officers are not chasing after more suspects.

Some claim CPD’s pursuit policy actually encourages criminal behavior.

But the police chief disagrees and wants to set the record straight.

19 Investigates took a closer look at the challenges of balancing public safety.

“Right now, word on the street with young people-- is that the police aren’t going to do anything to you. They’re not going to do nothing to you [sic]. They will see the situation and they won’t chase the crime,” said Council member Joe Jones at a recent public safety meeting.

“It’s understood, that if you get in your vehicle, the Cleveland Police cannot do anything,” said Council member Kerry McCormack.

But is that really true?

Cleveland Police told 19 Investigates that claims that the department has a “no chase” policy are completely false.

They said officers can and are chasing suspects as directives allow.

We reviewed CPD’s current pursuit policy.

It was put in place in 2015 when the city and U.S. Department of Justice entered into a consent decree.

According to the policy, officers can only initiate a chase if the fleeing suspects are accused of committing violent felonies like murders and car jackings, as well as OVI’s.

The policy also states “the immediate danger of the pursuit must be less than the immediate or potential danger to the public if the suspect remains at large.”

Pursuing officers must also be operating authorized emergency vehicles.

Chief Wayne Drummond said the city is currently in talks with the federal monitoring team to potentially modify the current policy so that officers will be allowed to chase in more situations.

“It’s challenging because we want to make sure that we do everything we can to remove people from the streets that are committing crimes, but we have to balance that with public safety,” Chief Drummond said.

He said finding that balance isn’t easy.

The chief told us the time of day and location of the crime are also factors when it comes to pursuing suspected criminals.

“I don’t expect my officers, even in those circumstances, to be chasing after someone at 5 in the afternoon down West 25th in Tremont when it’s extremely crowded, doing 90, 100 miles per hour ‘cause I think that’s irresponsible regardless of what the crime is for, at least at that particular time,” Drummond said.

The chief also made it clear at last week’s safety committee meeting that his officers won’t be putting the safety of the public at risk over minor offenses.

He said that is often the case when East Cleveland Police officers chase vehicles across the border into Cleveland and those pursuits end in a crash.

“The vast majority of those crashes occurred here, in this city, and the carnage that it created, and the damage and the injuries to innocent people,” Drummond said.