Cadets joining the Cleveland Division of Police will be paid more and receive a bonus as the city works to increase the size of its police force amid a shortage of officers and an increase in violence.
Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb on Wednesday announced the new incentives at a news conference. Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond; Capt. Jim O’Malley, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 8 president; and Det. Jeff Follmer, Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president, joined the mayor for the announcement.
The city and the police union are expected to sign an agreement that will increase cadets’ pay from $16 an hour to $24 an hour. New cadets will also get a $5,000 sign-on bonus, with $1,000 distributed when they’re hired, $1,000 when they graduate from the academy, and the final $3,000 when they complete their probationary period, the mayor said.
The group of public safety leaders and Mayor Bibb have been meeting for six weeks to discuss ways to recruit and retain officers. They are also talking about deployment of officers, the mayor said.
The agreement also includes reimbursement for cadets who completed the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy through Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C). And cadets with a college degree or military experience can enter the police department at a higher rank.
Discussion on retention continues
The mayor said they would continue to discuss retention and deployment in the next few weeks. Those discussions will include pay increases and retention bonuses, Bibb said.
“We are in a war for talent right now across the country when it comes to law enforcement,” Bibb said. “And I’ve given my word as mayor that I’m not gonna spare any expense to invest in public safety and we are looking forward to those continued conversations.”
Bibb said officers are working hard. The department is also getting help through state and federal partnerships to address the increase in crime this summer.
Follmer said increasing staffing levels will help relieve existing officers of mandatory overtime. O’Malley said recruiting more officers will also help address a shortage of supervisors.
The police department has 1,226 officers – about 980 of them patrol officers – but has the budget for 1,498. Recruiting new officers has been slow.
Nine recruits are currently going through the academy, Chief Drummond and Public Safety Director Karrie Howard told City Council members during a Safety Committee meeting on Aug. 2.
Another academy class is expected to start in October.
Limiting overtime hours
After that committee meeting, Chief Drummond told Signal Cleveland that officers are mandated to stay past their shift when they don’t have enough people volunteering for overtime. The most an officer can work each day is 16 hours, Drummond said.
But he tells his supervisors to avoid having officers work all 16 hours as much as possible, he said. Supervisors are also told to look for officers coming back from their weekend when deciding who will have mandated overtime, Drummond said.
“We want to look out for the best interest of our officers, and mental health and physical health is part of that requirement,” Drummond told Signal Cleveland. “So we want to make sure that they’re both mentally and physically really healthy.”