More people are looking to work as Cleveland police officers, city officials said Wednesday.
Since Mayor Justin Bibb announced major pay increases and sign-on bonuses in August, applications are up 45%, according to city officials. From July 1 to Sept. 30, the police department received 295 applications.
Over the years, the department has struggled to retain and recruit. Currently, the city has 1,211 officers, but is budgeted to have 1,498. Officers have been poached by other departments, or they have retired or resigned, making it harder for the department to keep up with violent crime within the city.
Last year, the police department lost 168 officers. So far this year, it is down 133, said Ward 8 Councilman Michael Polensek, who leads the Public Safety Committee.
“We will see how many officers are actually hired,” Polensek said. “Lets hope the process has improved.”
Polensek worries about hiring. He said 95 applicants, who were scheduled to attend the academy, were dropped after going through the civil service process.
The city attributes the application increase to several reasons. The cadet salary has been increased from $16 an hour to $24. Cadets entering the academy with a college degree or have been in the military will enter at a higher level.
Additionally, the city offers a $5,000 sign-on bonus. The bonus comes with stipulations that must be followed by officers after they receive the payment.
Cuyahoga Community College will reimburse recruits for their out-of-pocket expenses if they attend the school’s academy.
The shortage of police officers has become a national problem. In Cleveland, it forced some officers to earn more than $100,000 in salary and overtime last year, according to data from the city.
The city also said part of the jump in applications stems from Bibb’s push to bolster patrols and improve technology in neighborhoods. Bibb announced the initiative in July, as gun violence in Cleveland spiked. Since then, local, state and federal law enforcement officials have patrolled city streets.
“There is no substitute for men and women patrolling our streets,” Polensek said.
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