New CHPD leadership offers a recap of 2010 crime stats

I was curious about the crime statistics for Cleveland Heights. The FBI keeps these numbers in its Unified Crime Report and they may be found on its website. But I was interested in a more personal, on-the-ground exchange in Cleveland Heights.

What better time, I thought, than when the police department has a new chief. In addition, four captains have retired and been replaced. So it’s a new team.

It took time and a lot of phone calls to reach the inner sanctum of the police department, but once I did, I was invited into an open discussion with Chief Jeffrey Robertson and two of his officers.

At 6’ 8”, Robertson is an imposing figure. “It’s why I like to sit down,” he said with a smile, immediately leveling the field. He became head of the 109-officer department in early December. You might say it is a department characterized by continuity. He follows in the footsteps of Martin Lentz, who was chief for 36-and-a-half years. Robertson himself has served in the department for 30 years. Robertson is personable, uses a bit of humor and assures – in his manner and his words – that he is open and accessible to the community.

The number of violent crimes has gone down slightly in the past two years. There were three murders in 2009; there were two cases that resulted in manslaughter charges in 2010. The first was the case of officer Thomas Patton II, who died while pursuing a suspect on foot which resulted in a conviction. The other was the case of 16-year-old Adonis Mays, who died in December, following an argument with his father that allegedly turned physical. Mays has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

In 2010, there were 68 robberies, compared to 70 in 2009; there was one reported rape, compared to two in 2009; there were four aggravated assaults, down from nine in 2009; and there were 74 simple assaults, compared to 92 in 2009.

Rape, as is well known, is probably vastly underreported. 

The number of burglaries, however rose significantly, especially in December. There were 161 burglaries (30 in December alone) in 2010, up from 118 the year before.

A concentration of burglaries occurred in the area north of Mayfield Road, between Coventry and Superior roads. Robertson said police set up a detail there and recently arrested three suspects, whom they believe are responsible for many of the crimes. Detective Michael Kane said about half of the December burglaries occurred in that target area. “We will see if the numbers drop now that those arrests have been made,” he said. Kane added that the department is seeing more juveniles involved in burglary.

Larceny theft dropped to 403 incidents last year – from 418 in 2009. So, too, with motor vehicle theft, of which there were 85 reports last year, and 110 in 2009.

Robertson said that in March the department plans to begin a new program called Meet the Police. On Thursdays, beginning at 6 p.m, a police officer will be available in the department's cafeteria. Anyone may come in to discuss privately with the officer anything they wish. It could be such things as vandalism of a vacant house next door, a crime they know of that has not been reported, or even bringing a child in to meet a police officer. Starting date for this has not yet been announced.

“This will be a first step in talking to each other,” Robertson said. “It is a beginning that maybe will blossom. Problem-solving is a two-way street.”

So, it looks as though we can look forward to more conversation with Chief Robertson and his officers.

Eleanor Mallet's column, "A Heights Observer," explores the nooks and crannies in the Heights. She can be reached at

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Volume 4, Issue 2, Posted 6:12 PM, 01.22.2011