Cleveland to hire more police officers
While police departments deal with a shrinking pool of job candidates, Cleveland plans to add several hundred new officers over the next year thanks to an aggressive recruiting plan aimed at making its department look more like the community it serves.
Democratic Mayor Frank Jackson set a goal of adding 250 new officers last year after city voters approved an income tax increase intended in part to bolster the ranks of a police department bracing for a wave of retirements from baby boomers over the next five years. Around 40 percent of the department’s force of roughly 1,500 officers has more than 20 years of service.
The ability to hire new officers is significant for a department that has battled image problems after high-profile shootings, large lawsuit settlements and a federal finding that officers had engaged in a pattern of excessive force and violating civil rights. Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice reached an agreement in 2015 to have a court-appointed monitor oversee departmental reforms.
Before the consent decree, police recruiting in Cleveland had been haphazard. Today, with the Department of Justice requiring a recruitment plan, there’s a safety forces recruiting unit with five officers headed by Sgt. Charmin Leon.
“It looks promising,” Leon said. “It’s just a matter of having resources and the commitment of the department to do it.”