As homicides spike in Cleveland, the number of detectives investigating slayings and shootings is dwindling.
Through June, 92 people were killed in the city. That figure is expected to rise, as investigators await test results from the Cuyahoga County medical examiner’s office, the Plain Dealer reports.
But the numbers of officers handling those cases are a fraction of what has been recommended. It comes at a time when Cleveland has 1,242 officers. It had 1,600 as recently as a few years ago.
“It becomes a challenge when specialized units like homicide, sex crimes and domestic violence are not properly staffed,” said Michael Polensek, the chairman of Cleveland City Council’s Public Safety Committee. “There is a domino effect, and we’re seeing unprecedented levels of violence in some neighborhoods across the city.”
The homicide unit has 16 detectives, three sergeants and a crime analyst. The unit is aided by an FBI analyst, a state crime analyst and an agent from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, according to Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia, a spokeswoman the department.
The homicide unit is budgeted for 23 detectives. A recommendation from the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Public Safety Partnership – an initiative aimed to help cities like Cleveland address violent crime and strategize greater efforts to reduce it – recommended the city needs at least 38 detectives to investigate the growing number of homicides.
Last year, the unit had 17 detectives who each examined an average of 13 cases. Those included child fatalities and investigations from the medical examiner’s office, Ciaccia said.