Alderman Mike Polensek said the Cleveland Police Department is currently 1923 manned.
Cleveland — cleveland The police department’s newest recruits are the smallest the city has seen in decades, highlighting a long-standing struggle to attract new officers to a dwindling force.
“We are disappointed,” Cleveland Police Capt. James O’Malley said. “Because this is a good career.”
Capt. O’Malley has been with the department for 27 years. He said his current class of nine recruits was the smallest he had seen, even less when compared to the number of officers Cleveland needed.
“The city of Cleveland is 77 square miles, and if someone calls the police, they want the police there. We need a Crisis Intervention Officer, they all take bodies,” he said.
O’Malley also serves as president of Cleveland Police Fraternity (FOP) Lodge 8. It represents the department’s police supervisor. He said the CDP was short of more than 50 of his supervisors and nearly 230 of his patrol officers.
He added that the best the department can do to meet demand is to retain officers for 16-hour shifts.
O’Malley believes several factors have contributed to the decline over the years, including vilification of police officers across the country, facing inspectors from multiple oversight boards and agencies, and low wages.
“It’s like a sports team. If you want to get the best players, you have to pay for the best players. Protecting your citizens costs money,” he said.
The Cleveland City Council recently approved a budget Alderman Mike Polensek said this included funding for 180 additional officers.
“We did everything we were asked to do as a council,” he said.
Polensek said he was not surprised by the low number of new graduates. A talent shortage has been a problem for years, and Polensek said the city needs to come up with a hiring plan before the current government under Mayor Justin Bibb deteriorates.
Polensek said the police “didn’t even step on the water at that point,” at a staffing level that looked like it was in 1923.
“I’ve never experienced it. I’ve never seen it before,” he said of the low numbers. “Nobody living in this city today has ever experienced anything like this.”
The situation can quickly deteriorate. Polensek said his 200 members of the police are eligible for retirement.
“We’re going to have a difficult situation in the middle of summer,” he said.
“Is the city doing enough? I don’t know,” said Captain O’Malley. “Time will tell if the strategy they have put in place is sufficient.”
In any case, the men and women of the Cleveland Police Department will continue to do their best to protect the city, he said.
“Cleveland police officers are very dedicated to the city,” said O’Malley. “They have lost their lives, they have been injured, they have been injured defending their citizens.”
https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/local/cleveland/amid-shortage-cleveland-division-of-police-9-new-recruits-academy-class/95-5a17153b-d46f-4873-a0f7-a45c71f8f915 Cleveland Police Academy’s newest class has just nine new recruits