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Phoenix Police pull out the stops to recruit officers in Northeast Ohio

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 6:59 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Phoenix Police are working hard to recruit officers here in Northeast Ohio.

Phoenix Police Hiring and Recruiting Sgt. Brad Rebic is banking on the weather being a big sell.

“I’m originally from the northeast Ohio area, and I think trying to convince applicants to ditch the snow shovels and come out to the Valley of Sun and be part of the team out here,” Rebic said.

They’ve expanded their search from surrounding states out West to Ohio.

This comes as recruiting reaches crisis levels for many police and fire departments.

Police we spoke with said everything from politics to the job market is playing a part.

“There’s just been a disinterest in joining the law enforcement ranks. I think those have been the challenges here locally but also nationally,” Rebic said.

There is more to their pitch than the warmer weather.

They’re offering a $7,500 hiring bonus plus a $6,500 tuition reimbursement per year.

Phoenix Police recruiters say you can earn up to $87,366 annual income.

“Phoenix is a great department. We offer a competitive salary and benefits,” Rebic said.

19 Investigates found the starting salary for a Phoenix Police officer is $52,000.

A Cleveland Police officer starts at $54,855.

We also discovered Cleveland Police have 1,539 officers right now, including 55 recruits.

They’re under budget by 101 police.

Phoenix Police have 2,800 officers and they’re down by at least 300.

“It’s tough, it’s really tough to find folks out there that want to do this job anymore,” said Gary Wolske, president of Ohio Fraternal Order of Police.

We asked what he thinks of Phoenix Police recruiting here.

“Well, the first thing I thought Sara, was what a credit it is to the officers of northeast Ohio,” Wolske said.

“But unfortunately on the downside, it really hurts the residents of the state of Ohio when we lose qualified people, and that’s what these folks are,” he said.

But he doesn’t blame them for trying.

Many officers in cities across Northeast Ohio are leaving for the suburbs for better pay.

We asked Wolske whether Ohio can afford to lose any officers out of state.

“No, we can’t afford to lose officers to each other within the state,” he said.

19 Investigates also asked both Rebic and Wolske what can be done to get more people interested in becoming police officers.

They both answered it comes down to more education about the job and how it’s a chance to serve your community.

Phoenix Police will be testing for police recruits in Cleveland on November 6 and in Columbus on November 7.

You can find out more on their recruiting website here.

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