Did more CPD officers leave after Issue 24, police reform amendment passed?

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 9:24 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Cleveland voters passed a controversial new charter amendment of police oversight, known as Issue 24 last November, after heated debates on both sides.

Before the election, the police union claimed it would spur mass retirements.

As Cleveland inched closer to election day last November, Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, CPPA, was strongly against the charter amendment known as Issue 24.

The union issued a dire warning.

“We’re down 150 officers; we’re going into contract negotiations, so if there’s not a big wage increase. We have 288 people who are eligible to retire, I can’t see them staying around, and that’s going to put citizens at risk,” said Jeff Follmer, CPPA’s president, in November.

Issue 24 creates a civilian police oversight review board for Cleveland Police.

The board will investigate allegations of police misconduct.

19 Investigates wanted to find out if more CPD officers left after Issue 24 passed.

So we requested a list of Cleveland Police departures in 2021.

We found in total, 187 sworn members of CPD left the department last year.

This includes retirements, resignations, terminations, and deaths.

19 Investigates found 83 officers retired in 2021, not including medical pensions.

After November 2, when Issue 24 passed, eight officers retired, three in November and five in December.

The data shows an average of nearly seven officers retired each month in 2021, so the number of officers who left in November and December wasn’t out of the ordinary.

We also looked at resignations at the department and found 79 officers total resigned in 2021.

After Issue 24 passed, seven officers resigned in November, and nine resigned in December.

We discovered that it’s not far off from many other months.

On average, about 6.5 officers resigned each month.

We spoke to CPPA President Jeff Follmer over the phone after we went through the data.

He said right now, police pay is a priority during contract negotiations, and he’s especially concerned about losing officers and recruits.

“We’ve expressed our concerns about being comparable to the county and other suburbs, and I believe the mayor understands that,” Follmer said.

Follmer said they’re ready to work with the new mayor, Justin Bibb.

“You know Issue 24 is still important, but also getting our wages is important right now. So I think officers are waiting to see what we’re going to be making, what we’re going to do. I think there’s an understanding that Issue 24 will have its challenge in court, and I think the courts are going to decide how Issue 24 works out,” Follmer said.

Follmer expects Issue 24 will conflict with their contractual language.

Right now, the public safety director and police chief are the ones who can issue discipline.

Overall, we found no noticeable difference after Issue 24 passed of officers resigning or retiring.

But Issue 24 is still taking shape, so we’ll keep an eye on this over the next few months to see if anything changes.

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