The Cleveland Division of Police is beefing up their homicide unit, by adding five district detectives on a temporary basis to assist homicide detectives in solving more cases.
The homicide unit currently consists of 13 detectives and has been understaffed for several years. The city has also struggled with a high number of unsolved homicides for years.
“I think a 54 percent homicide rate is unacceptable, so we need to do something different, we need to do something outside the box,” said Cleveland Councilman Blaine Griffin, who said he supports the plan for the temporary detail assignment.
“Right now, the most pressing thing in our community that people feel unsafe about are homicides that are happening so we have to beef up those units and have to beef them up with people who really know those neighborhoods, really know those streets,” Griffin added.
The five detectives, required to be seasoned investigators, will come from the city’s police districts or special units. District detectives investigate the city’s non-fatal shootings, robberies, and burglaries.
Deputy Chief Harold Pretel said the goal is two-fold: to help the homicide unit with their current caseload and to serve as professional development for those district detectives. Essentially, a try-out for them to become homicide detectives permanently.
The detectives will assist the homicide unit for four months and will start by September.
Pretel also said they plan to hire three more homicide detectives in the next year, and have more than 20 homicide detectives by the year 2020.
But Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Jeff Follmer said the move is simply a stopgap because the entire division of police is so understaffed.
“You’re taking from one place that’s short to another place that’s short, so what’s the end result? Tired detectives, tired policemen all around,” Follmer said. “If the numbers are there, it’s a good idea. Our numbers aren’t there.”
As of Monday, Aug. 20, the city of Cleveland has had 77 homicides.
This time last year, there were 73 homicides.