Cleveland Police lost nearly 390 officers over two years, struggle to recruit new ones

Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 7:02 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Police Department lost about 200 officers last year, from retirements to resignations.

It’s a record CPD didn’t set out to make in 2022, after losing 186 officers the year before in 2021.

That’s 386 officers lost over two years.

19 Investigates asked Chief Wayne Drummond how many officers the department has hired over that time period.

“I would say since 2021 to 2022, it’s about 100, about 98,” Chief Drummond said.

And they can’t fill those open spots fast enough.

This comes as first responders face a recruiting crisis across the country.

19 Investigates got a hold of city records showing the number of Cleveland Police officers who retired, resigned, got fired and passed away last year.

We found most of the officers who left resigned or retired.

And at least 90 CPD officers resigned in 2022.

We also found at least three police officers transferred to the Cleveland Fire department last year.

The race to replace these officers with qualified candidates continues to be an uphill battle for the city.

Public Safety Director Karrie Howard and Police Chief Wayne Drummond addressed the problem last week, as they talked about Mayor Justin Bibb’s proposed budget during a media briefing.

It would slash 142 vacant officer positions from Cleveland Police.

“Vacancies don’t keep the city safe. The police officers who are out there actually doing the work, keep the city safe,” Howard said.

This would leave about 1,500 officer positions budgeted for CPD.

Right now, they have just under 1,300 officers on the police force.

We asked Chief Drummond what’s being done to keep officers from leaving.

“There will also be another increase this year, to make it more competitive with other cities, what they’re paying their officers. We know that’s important, having a decent salary is really important in retaining those officers. And having an environment where the officers are respected and supported. I think also that’s very important, and I think we’re doing that,” Chief Drummond said.

The new salary increase for officers is seven percent.

Meanwhile, CPD now needs to fill about 200 officer positions, instead of the more than 400 open positions they had before the proposed cuts of vacant positions.

Officials admit recruit classes are looking smaller these days, with only 13 enrolled right now and 11 signed up for the next class.

“It’s a challenge for us, but we’re doing everything we can to recruit and bring people in. So if that equates to three or four academy classes, that’s what we’ll put through,” Drummond said.

City officials said they’re making other investments in police, including a new $90 million dollar headquarters and $20 million in federal funds going to equipment, shot spotters and police cruisers.