CLEVELAND — Mayor Justin Bibb has announced plans to expand the use of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Diversion Center for non-violent offenders.
“The Diversion Center offers mental health services and is a proven model to reduce re-offending,” said Bibb in a statement. “It is critical that we re-prioritize City resources to help first responders deliver the right response at the right time and target the root causes of violent crime.”
In collaboration with law enforcement, the 50-bed Diversion Center is designed for individuals experiencing a mental or physical health crisis due to substance abuse and/or addiction or for individuals with a history of experiencing a mental or physical health crisis.
The city's plan for expansion of services includes:
- Eliminating the need for pre-approval by a City Prosecutor and trusting Cleveland Police Officers to make the correct decision at the time of an arrest or stop.
- Dramatically expanding the range of non-violent offenses for which Diversion is permitted.
- Protecting victims and complying with Marsy’s law by requiring officers to articulate and record their reasonable efforts to contact victims and the grounds for diversion.
Under the new expansion, any non-violent misdemeanor offense can be eligible for screening and review for the Diversion Center except for the following:
- Any escalating misdemeanor (i.e. domestic violence, menacing by stalking), including operating a vehicle impaired (OVI) and physical control.
- Assault where physical harm results in medical assistance being needed;
- Any offense that qualifies as a sex offense.
“Expanding these services will provide our officers with an alternative course of action and ensure that individuals experiencing a mental or physical health crisis receive the services and support they need," Bibb added.
In response to Bibb's announcement, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish made the following statement: "I applaud the Mayor’s decision to change the city’s policy and improve Cleveland Police Department participation in the program. We expect the City of Cleveland to be the largest single user that will take advantage of this County resource. I look forward to our continued collaboration in utilizing this facility to its fullest capabilities to provide mentally-ill residents or those suffering from addiction with treatment services outside the criminal justice system.”
Ohio's first diversion center is located at the Oriana House at 1829 East 55th Street in Cleveland. It opened in May of 2021 as an alternative to jail for low offenders who need mental health or addiction treatment.
I'd like to thank Mayor Bibb for his swift action to eliminate the requirement for a Cleveland police officer to call a city prosecutor before taking a person to the Cuyahoga County Diversion Center," said Scott S. Osiecki, Chief Executive Officer of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County. "His decision and policy will help individuals living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders receive the care they need."