CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The FOX 8 I TEAM has found thousands of criminal cases not getting investigated in Cleveland.
And, this is not the first we’ve heard of it, so we’re asking what’s being done about it?
We’re asking hard questions about a massive backlog involving hit-and-run crashes. The City says, last year, 5874 cases were referred to the Hit/Skip Unit. That unit has 1 detective assigned to investigate.
One other officer has been temporarily assigned, but that officer is on “light duty," not out investigating.
Recently, Terry Troha was hit by a car and flipped into the air as she worked as a school crossing guard. The driver took off, and Terry says she has not received any follow-up from police.
Lawrence Williams says a hit-and-run driver totaled his car, and he hasn’t received any follow-up even though police found the other driver’s license plate.
Forget the numbers and consider, the I TEAM has learned Cleveland accident investigations are so backed up, police just started recently looking at cases from December, 2015.
We’ve put a spotlight on this before, but the problem is more dramatic than ever.
"Oh, it's totally unacceptable,” said Councilman Mike Polensek. He will be demanding an explanation from city leaders during upcoming budget hearings.
We’ve shown you Cleveland is short-staffed with patrol officers. That can mean long response times. And the city is planning to hire more officers.
However, Polensek points out, investigative units are short, too. He said, “But if a crime is committed, there needs to be follow-up. And we're not seeing the follow-up, whether it be in homicide, whether you see it in hit-skip."
The I TEAM found last year the city budget called for 4 detectives in the Hit-Skip Unit, not just one. That means, for some reason, positions went unfilled.
Terry, the crossing guard, feels lucky to be alive. But she and Lawrence Williams are among many victims of hit-and-run drivers who will be lucky to see justice. He said, "I think that's just outrageous."