CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WDEF) — The city of Cleveland is seeing an increase in crime compared to previous years.
Chief Mark Gibson, with the Cleveland Police Department, says there were 26 percent more arrests in 2017 than in 2016.
“We saw an increase in drug related arrests and drug related crimes. That has to do with a little bit to do with our crime suppression unit and just a different approach in being more proactive in enforcing crimes and specifically for the opioid drug abuse,” Chief Gibson said.
He says there is a clear connection between crime and the opioid epidemic, especially when it comes to crimes like theft.
“A large percentage of those crimes have individuals that have a drug history or related to drug use that have a drug abuse problem,” Chief Gibson said.
Chief Gibson says law enforcement has to be proactive. That’s why they started the crime suppression unit.
“Part of that you are going to get users and addicts and that is not the main goal, it is good news to get users and addicts. If we come across them and we have to arrest them, that is part of the job and our main focus is hopefully they will get into treatment programs. Our court systems have programs in place and we work with a lot of community groups,” Chief Gibson said.
He realizes the problem won’t go away.
“We recognize that it is an issue in our community and we are going to see these issues grow and we’ve got to be more proactive and head that off before it gets too far out of control,” Chief Gibson said.
Cleveland Police made more than 3,000 arrests last year.