Cleveland budget estimate has room for 180 new police officers in 2024
Cleveland's police hiring numbers remain a touchy subject at City Hall and a political wedge issue between Mayor Justin Bibb and City Council President Blaine Griffin.
Catch up quick: On Feb. 1, the Bibb administration released its annual budget estimate, which calls for cutting 148 vacant positions from the police budget to free up dollars for police raises and incentives.
Why it matters: The U.S. is experiencing a "police hiring crisis." In Cleveland, a smaller police force has meant reduced visibility in neighborhoods and the need for support from state and federal agencies, like during last summer's crime wave.
What they're saying: "The continued reduction of Cleveland's police force advocated by the administration is concerning," Griffin said in a statement.
- "Last year, council accepted cuts with the understanding the city would work with an external marketing agency to recruit new officers. We are waiting for the results from their work."
The other side: The administration said the vacant positions were cut in consultation with police leadership.
- CFO Ahmed Abonamah told Signal Cleveland said the budget is now more honest about how many officers the city can realistically hire.
By the numbers: With the reduced vacancies, the budget allows for 180 new officers in 2024, adding to the 1,175 currently in uniform.
Reality check: At a council safety committee meeting last week, police chief Wayne Drummond told the council that even with successful recruiting thanks to Bibb's RISE Initiative, which increased police cadet pay and offered a $5,000 signing bonus, 180 hires will be very difficult to reach.
- Last year, the police academy graduated only 21 recruits, compared with 33 in 2022 and 86 in 2021.
Yes, but: A police hiring event at the end of 2023 netted the department 256 conditional employment offers.
- At least half are likely to be weeded out after physical and psychological testing, but Drummond said he was bullish on the size of the incoming academy class, which begins in mid-March.
What's next: City Council will begin its annual marathon budget hearings on Feb. 20.
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