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Cleveland police having a hard time recruiting new members

Cleveland police facing difficulties in recruiting new officers

“The ones that are out there are doing a knock up job, it’s just we need more of them at this point,” says Cleveland City Councilman, Brian Kazy.

CLEVELAND — With the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death this week, the case that led to a national reexamination of policing could be having an impact on officer recruitment in Cleveland.

“The ones that are out there are doing a knock up job, it’s just we need more of them at this point,” says Cleveland City Councilman, Brian Kazy.

The Cleveland Division of Police has been actively recruiting new officers all weekend, looking to replenish a staff that’s currently down 102 officers. Police say new applicant turnout has been fairly low.

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Kazy, who is also on the Cleveland Safety Committee, says part of the reason for the lack of new recruits is a nationwide negative association toward police.

“You’re dealing with that national stereotype where every police officer is either bad, on a power trip, racist or prejudice,” says Kazy. “Who wants to get into a profession where you’re just going to be deemed that the minute you put on the uniform.”

The officer shortage is being felt nationwide.

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There are fewer applications coming in and more and more badges hanging up. Cleveland has already had over 60 retirees this year with more to come, as well as some officers leaving to work in other cities. While they may be leaving for more money, Kazy says Cleveland’s salaries are competitive.

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“Police officers in Cleveland start right around $55,000 coming out of the academy and it only goes up from there,” says Kazy. “I’m not saying that we’re where we need to be, but we’re not at an overly poor starting point.”

So, what’s next? The good news is the department does have about 80 cadets heading to the academy later this summer. The bad news is, it’s about six to eight months of training before they’re able to fill the needed roles. 

In that time, the shortfall is bound to widen with more departures. In the meantime, current officers are working overtime and extra shifts to fill the gap. A gap felt in Cleveland and across the country.

“It takes a very special individual to want to be a police officer and to actually do it and do it the right way,” Katz says. “Unfortunately, we don’t have too many of those people left in the world anymore.”

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