CLEVELAND — Through the first six months of this year, the Cleveland Division of Police is reporting slight decreases in most categories of violent crime, especially homicides, compared to the same time period in 2021. Although city leaders, including Mayor Justin Bibb and newly-appointed police Chief Wayne Drummond, noted the positive progress, they also acknowledged there is still much, much more to be done.
The modest improvements to the city’s violent crime rate through the end of June include 16 fewer homicides, roughly 50 fewer rapes, three fewer robberies and nearly 300 fewer felonious assault reports compared to the same period in 2021, according to data in the Division of Police’s midyear report. Despite the slight decreases, 2022’s homicide count year-to-date still ranks the second highest total over the past decade. The 86 homicides through the first six months of 2021 is the highest.
Chief Drummond told reporters Tuesday that he realizes the declines so far this year can quickly change.
“One bad day, one bad month, one bad weekend can change that,” Chief Drummond said.
Mayor Bibb pointed to his administration’s "holistic approach" in combating and addressing the root issues of crime as potential factors in the slight declines in violent crime reports this year. Additionally, the Division of Police has been focusing on crime “hot spots” throughout the city by targeting the small group of perpetrators that are largely responsible for it.
“Ninety percent of all gun-related homicides in the city of Cleveland are young men of color, ages 18 to 29. We know where the problem is and we as a city must continue to focus our resources and investments on addressing that structural issue,” Mayor Bibb said. “The department is doing a better job of what I call ‘precision policing.’ More intelligence, more of a focus on hotspots, getting more additional resources from the federal government — and the state government as well — to augment our abilities at CPD.”
Despite the slight decreases in violent crime year-to-date, there have been significant decreases in the number of arrests made in auto theft cases, narcotics, and weapons violations, according to the midyear report. Additionally, the number of guns confiscated by Cleveland police officers so far this year has declined by nearly 50% compared to the first half 2021.
Chief Drummond said the department’s continued staffing crunch, which the division is working to alleviate, could be a factor.
“I would be remiss if I said that our staffing doesn’t affect that. Of course it does. If I had 1,640 officers, which is what we’re budgeted for… it gives me more flexibility,” Chief Drummond said. “Having 1,640 officers certainly helps us to have more flexibility and hopefully increase those numbers and so forth.”
In addition to relaxing the appearance and dress code regulations at the Division of Police — officers are now able to have beards, tattoos and wear ball caps — Chief Drummond said patrol officers have been given more discretion in how to handle certain calls, including whether to issue traffic citations.
Watch DaLaun Dillard speak with Drummond, Director of Public Safety Kerry Howard and the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance about the report:
“Not everyone needs to be cited. Not everyone needs to be arrested. Maybe some people will push back on that but, yeah, if you have someone out there that’s killing someone, yeah, they need to go to jail,” Chief Drummond said. “If you have someone out there shooting people, yeah, they need to go to jail. Robbing people? Yeah, they need to go to jail. And we’re going to do that but there has to be a balance.”
You can watch Cleveland city leaders' full discussion and Q&A on the midyear report below: