CLEVELAND, OH. - As the city of Cleveland, Ohio, tries to balance its budget, the police force is in trouble. So to assist the Cleveland Police Department (CPD), which is understaffed and has a lot of cases and backlogs, Mayor Justin Bibb has proposed cutting the number of police officers by 142.
Overtime costs are expected to be reduced by millions of dollars due to this move. However, the proposal has been criticized by some, including the police union president Jeff Follmer. "You need a safe city to have a successful city," Follmer stated.
The Director of Public Safety, Karrie Howard, has explained the rationale behind the proposal. "None of these decisions are simple," Howard stated. The city is carefully considering being fiscally responsible with taxpayer funds, preserving its safety, and ensuring that officers in actual field positions have everything they need to carry out their responsibilities. Howard added that there are still few people applying for jobs and that budgeting for the same number of Cleveland police officers would be absurd. There are only 13 cadets in the current academy class.
The department lost more officers in 2021 (187) and 2020 (133) than the force lost last year (200). Cleveland has lost 32% of its police force in the last three years. Michael Polensek, a long-time councilman, stated, "We're not even treading water" regarding the city's difficulty in filling open positions.
The city now offers a $3,000 signing bonus to attract new officers. Additionally, Mayor Bibb has stated that he will employ a marketing firm to assist officer hiring. Officers can now sport beards, tattoos, and ballcaps, and those who stay for two years get a $3,000 bonus. With the police union, the city has also negotiated a three-year raise of 11%.
However, Follmer stated that police officers experience stress due to the situation. He stated, "We must return to our numbers, and as I stated, our members require a break" to provide citizens with high-quality services. Over 400 Cleveland police officers became eligible to retire on January 1.
Residents are worried as a result of the situation. "It's kind of crazy because with the rate of crime, especially in this area, we need officers," said one resident. "They are absolutely needed by us."
The loss of 142 police officers in Cleveland will significantly impact the safety of its residents. A safe city is essential. The city must find a way to keep its budget in check while ensuring enough police officers to protect its residents.
In short, concerns about the safety of the city and the welfare of its police force have been raised by Mayor Justin Bibb's proposal to reduce the number of officers in Cleveland. The city is facing a difficult time as it tries to keep its budget in check and keep its residents safe. The situation remains a top priority, and careful consideration is required to protect Cleveland residents. That taxpayer funds are used wisely, despite the city's efforts to recruit additional officers.
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