An East Cleveland police vehicle is parked in front of East Cleveland City Hall on Monday, March 20, 2023. Credit: Stephanie Casanova / Signal Cleveland

Results are in from a six-week traffic safety collaboration between the City of East Cleveland and the Ohio State Highway Patrol. While both see the operation as a success, it is ending as the city brings on more officers. 

City officials in East Cleveland announced the partnership in March, saying the Ohio Highway Patrol would help enforce traffic laws while the East Cleveland Police Department continues to rebuild after a number of officers were indicted on criminal charges in March. 

Troopers issued 13 citations and 56 warnings in East Cleveland from March 20 to May 1, said Sgt. Bridget Matt, the Northeast Ohio spokesperson for the State Highway Patrol. She called it a “productive safety initiative.” 

“After a meeting with the East Cleveland police chief and the mayor, it was determined that our assistance was no longer required,” Matt said in an email this week. 

Sgt. Ray Santiago, a spokesperson for the Ohio State Highway Patrol, told Signal Cleveland in March that troopers would focus on educating East Cleveland residents on safer driving. 

East Cleveland Police Chief Brian Gerhard said the troopers were there only to promote traffic safety. 

“They were not dispatched to handle criminal complaints or used as additional manpower,” he said in an email. 

Since 2020, East Cleveland has had 643 crashes, 201 of them resulting in some injury and 32 of them resulting in serious injury or death, the agencies said in a news release in March. 

Troopers were asked to focus on crash-causing violations, Santiago said in March. “It’s not just going out there to make meaningless traffic stops. We’re trying to have an impact on public safety.”

The patrols focused on main roads such as Euclid Avenue, Superior Avenue and Noble Road but also included other areas of East Cleveland. 

Rebuilding the East Cleveland police department

While announcing the partnership, East Cleveland Mayor Brandon King said the help from highway patrol was a welcome “boost” to the city’s public safety response as the police department rebuilds.

“Given the assistance from the county prosecutor in helping our new chief rid the department of those who violate the law, bringing in roadway safety will allow our police officers to do what they do best,” King said, “and that is, respond to 911 calls … as they continue to recruit and bring in new officers.” 

City officials announced the collaboration after 11 officers and former officers of the police department were indicted in March on felony charges including assault, interfering with civil rights, and dereliction of duty. 

In an email this week, Gerhard said eight of those 11 officers were on staff in 2022 and 2023. 

The department has hired six officers in the last two months, Gerhard said. Five are assigned to patrol and one will graduate from the police academy soon, he said. 

Criminal Justice Reporter (she/her)
Stephanie, who covered criminal justice and breaking news at the Chicago Tribune, is a bilingual journalist with a passion for storytelling that is inclusive and reflects the diversity of the communities she covers. She has been a reporter and copy editor for local newspapers in South Dakota, Kansas and Arizona. Stephanie is also a Maynard 200 alumni, a Maynard Institute for Journalism Education training program for journalists of color that focuses on making newsrooms more equitable, diverse and anti-racist.