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Cleveland police use of force incidents have declined 40% since 2018, but so have arrests

Report leaves questions about reasons for drop in arrests
Cleveland Community Police Commission
Posted at 5:57 PM, Apr 25, 2022

CLEVELAND — Police in Cleveland are touting a big decline in use of force incidents between 2018 and 2021, but what do the numbers really say? The question isn’t just on our minds, but answers were hard to come by.

There are a lot of numbers packed into the 78-page Cleveland Police Use of Force report released last Friday.

“There is a tremendous amount of information in there that we can look and see from their presentation of it,” said Jason Goodrick, the Executive Director for the Cleveland Community Police Commission.

Front and center is the interim police chief’s message about a consistent decline of use of force by about 42% between 2018 and 2021, but arrests were also down 40% in that time.

The report is leaving Goodrick and us wanting more answers.

“Without access to the raw data and the ability for the community to look deep into it or academics to look into it we have to take it at its face value,” Goodrick said.

News 5 asked Goodrick what stood out to him the most about the report.

“Having seen multiple use of force reports since the beginning of the consent decree, I’ll start with the positives,” Goodrick said.

One positive, Goodrick says, is more data being made available.

In the report, you will see trends and when use of force has happened.

The highest number in the month of June, Sundays were noted as the day when use of force most consistently happens and domestic violence was among top calls.

“There’s no doubt when you compare pre-consent decree going to to 2014 and 2015 comparatively to 2021 numbers, there is less use of force on the Cleveland Division of Police," Goodrick said.

But Goodrick points to calls for service, arrests and use of force totals.

“It’s by arrest ratio, so arrests to use of force, and if you look at that number it stays about the same when you look at percentages of use of force is around 2%,” Goodrick said.

Calls for service remained relatively consistent over the four years. There was a dramatic drop in the rate of arrests. But why?

“To really do an in-depth study would take paring up with an academic institution and really looking into other factors — here we have no factors,” Goodrick said.

The report came out Friday. News 5 asked first thing Monday for an on-camera interview. Cleveland police representatives wouldn’t grant one, saying no one was available.

We also reached out to the police union president but have not been able to schedule a time for a sit down.

Goodrick says more data is good, but there’s still a lack in transparency and justice outcomes.

“Maybe that’s what the civilian oversight body can do, is ask those questions and put those resources into finding the truth behind data and statistics,” Goodrick said.

Read the full 2021 Use of Force Report here.