CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered a big drop in the number of people getting arrested in Cleveland.

So, we investigated why and what it means for your safety.

Day after day, on city streets, we see evidence of gunfire flying, killers taking the lives of innocent people and car thieves running wild.

Yet, the I-Team found a dramatic drop in the number of people arrested.

In 2020 and 2021, Cleveland police arrested more than 9,000 people. Last year, only a little more than 7,000.

The records show arrests for violent crime went down. Busts for weapons offenses went down by more than half and drug busts went down by nearly half.

However, the number of crimes reported did not suddenly go way down.

We shared our findings with an attorney for the Cleveland police union, Henry Hilow.

“There’s a lot of factors that contribute,” he said.

Hilow says one factor is Cleveland police are chronically short-staffed. The department is more than 300 officers short.

He also points to policies restricting officers from chasing suspects and heavy internal discipline. Multiple sources tell us many officers now think twice about getting involved in situations on the streets.

“In the City of Cleveland, you’re brought up on charges. In other cities, you’re given an award,” Hilow said. “With all the upheaval in the department, you talk to officers now and say, ‘How are you doing?’ The first thing many of them tell you is how many years they have until they retire.”

You won’t get any explanation from the people in charge. For days, we requested an interview from police administration or city hall. We received no response.

The city also did not explain why no one would answer questions.

Last month, the safety director just walked away from us when we approached him with questions about police recruiting delays.

Now, new numbers show more criminals may be walking away and not getting arrested.

While we noticed a sharp drop last year, we also saw the numbers of arrests by Cleveland police dropping dramatically over a decade. Look at the numbers for every year since 2012:


Find more I-Team coverage here.