Aug 23, 2023 - News

Bibb announces big incentives for Cleveland police cadets

Mayor Justin Bibb at the head of the conference table in the Mayor's Red Room, flanked by police union leadership

Mayor Justin Bibb (center), flanked by Fraternal Order of Police captain James O'Malley (L) and Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association president Jeff Follmer (R). Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

Cleveland is taking drastic measures to improve its recent dismal police recruiting.

Driving the news: Mayor Justin Bibb announced Wednesday that to attract new officers, the city will increase police cadet pay from $16 per hour to $24 per hour, a wage equal to more than 80% of a patrol officer's starting salary.

State of play: Bibb met Wednesday with Cleveland police and police union leaders in a safety summit to discuss recruitment, retention and deployment.

  • The recruitment strategies are part of a broader conversation around public safety solutions that Bibb named the RISE Initiative — Raising Investment in Safety for Everyone.

Details: In addition to an increased wage, cadets will receive a signing bonus of $5,000 to be paid in three installments.

  • Cadets with a college degree or military service will be "fast-tracked" after graduating from the academy, entering the ranks at a pay grade $3,700 above entry level.
  • The city will also reimburse out-of-pocket costs for new hires who have taken and paid for the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy through Tri-C.

What they're saying: "We have work ahead," Bibb said, "but today is a positive milestone and shows material progress in addressing our recruitment challenges."

By the numbers: In the three academy classes that have graduated so far in 2023, there have only been 36 total cadets, just 20% of the 180 budgeted by the city for this year.

Flashback: Police outlined a five-point recruitment blueprint this spring, but a major pay bump was not a part of the plan at the time.

What's next: Bibb said he'd immediately sign a memorandum of understanding to formalize the cadet pay increases.

  • Over the next few weeks, leaders will continue to meet to discuss strategies for officer retention and deployment, an urgent conversation as total police staffing stands at 1,226, far below the "fully staffed" budgeted number of 1,500.

The bottom line: "We are in a war for talent right now when it comes to law enforcement," Bibb said, "and I've given my word as mayor that I'm not going to spare any expense when it comes to public safety."


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