Mayor Bibb’s proposed budget calls for cutting nearly 150 vacant police officer positions

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 9:12 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Is your safety at risk?

The mayor’s budget calls for reducing the police force by about 150 officers. However, city leaders say this doesn’t take away from public safety.

“Vacancies don’t keep the city safe,” said Cleveland’s Chief Director of Public Safety, Karrie Howard. “The police officers who are out there actually doing the work, keep the city safe.”

Director Howard wasn’t mincing words when it came to the city’s proposed budget.

The 500-page document eliminates just over 250 positions within the city. 142 of them, coming from the Cleveland Police Department. However, it’s not quite what it seems. All CPD positions on the chopping block are vacant, meaning no one loses their job.

Director Howard says this isn’t defunding the police. In fact, he calls the budget an investment.

“That investment comes in the form of the 7% salary increases. That investment comes in the form of providing them more tools and technology to help them do their jobs,” said Director Howard.

Some of those tools include dash cams, gun detection technology, and new cruisers.

Investment or not, the loss of positions doesn’t come as a surprise to many.

It’s another reminder of the daily struggle of law enforcement agencies to hire and retain officers.

“In my 34 years on the job, we’ve never experienced such an issue, if you want to say, of finding individuals that want to become law enforcement officers, law enforcement professionals,” said Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond.

That struggle is reflected in CPD’s current numbers. According to Chief Drummond, the police department has just under 1,300 officers, putting them down around 200 officers even in the new budget.

Filling and retaining those open positions is certainly a daunting task ahead. However, Chief Drummond says they’ll do everything they can to get there.

While city officials say this is a good thing, Cleveland’s police union disagrees.

Union President Jeff Follmer sent 19 News this statement: “It’s disappointing to see the mayor’s position on decreasing our numbers. The union has concerns on our officer safety and officers getting burned out. With a reduced number, I cannot see how the city of Cleveland will get quality service and feel safe.”