Cleveland facing police shortage

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Wednesday morning, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams and command staff are scheduled to meet with city council's safety committee.

The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association has raised concerns about staffing levels and officer burnout. The union has specifically said there's a shortage at the department's Fourth District, which covers the city's east side. Union leaders said the result is some officers working 15- and 16-hour shifts.

In March, 42 officers graduated from the academy and were assigned to neighborhood districts. Three more academy classes are scheduled this year. The police department currently has just under 1,500 sworn members. They plan to hire an additional 250 officers by the beginning of 2019. Leaders said they expect to hire 150 this year and an additional 100 next year.

The fourth district, an office that's constant in need of more officers.

The head of the police union says they average 45-50 officers short between the three shifts in any given day.

"We've been able to go to other districts and ask if people are willing to work their day off in the fourth district.  We'll be pushing that further out into the districts if we need to," said 4th District Commander Brandon Kutz.

Chief Calvin Williams explained they are pulling officers from other districts and specialty units to cover basic patrols in the fourth.

"Our nice unit went out the whole weekend and worked the 4th district instead of working targeted violent crime enforcement, which is their mandate," Williams said.

While the department is working to hire 250 additional officers, long-time council member Michael Polensik asked how did the department get so short?

"Even a McDonald's restaurant knows how many people they need to have working," Polensik said.

Residents say crime has always been an issue in the area, and they want more officers on patrol.

"I don't see enough out here. The police response has been very light,"said resident Kelly Thompkins.

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