A Cleveland police officer salutes the camera in a frame from a new recruitment video.
A Cleveland police officer salutes the camera in a frame from a new recruitment video.

Cleveland is asking Channel 19 viewers to consider a career with the Division of Police. 

The city bought $7,000 in advertising time to air a 30-second recruitment spot on WOIO-TV. The ad runs for two months, beginning Nov. 16. The video is also circulating on social media. 

The ad depicts police officers handling dogs and riding motorcycles, bikes and horses around downtown Cleveland. More importantly, the spot talks up the pay and benefits that come with donning the badge: a $5,000 signing bonus, “outstanding benefits” and a “generous retirement package.” 

“Northeast Ohio: Cleveland is calling,” the ad’s voice-over says. “We want your strength, compassion and dedication. Join the Cleveland Division of Police and help make a difference.” 

City Hall spokesperson Tyler Sinclair described the ads as “an initial kickoff to a larger scale recruitment campaign.” Cleveland also signed a $49,250 contract with local marketing firm Little Jacket to lead a bigger effort to recruit police over the next few months. 

Mayor Justin Bibb has been under pressure to fill the depleting police ranks, as the number of homicides climbs and as Cleveland competes with other cities for recruits. The force now stands at 1,193 officers – 305 below the division’s budgeted strength.

As officers leave the force, Cleveland has seen only a trickle of new cadets to replace them. A nine-member class of recruits will graduate in December, and an eight-member class will graduate next March, Deputy Chief Daniel Fay told council last month. 

In August, the mayor announced a pay raise for cadets from $16 to $24 an hour. The city also said it would reimburse cadets who attend the police academy at Cuyahoga Community College. Last month, the city and police unions agreed to another hike in compensation for officers. Police also agreed to a new 12-hour shift system. 

Bibb is now pushing legislation in City Council to raise the maximum recruitment age from 40 to 55

Fay told council in October that the division is looking for recruits who don’t just react first and ask questions later. 

“We need young men and women who think before they act and communicate effectively,” he said.

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Government Reporter (he/him)
Nick joins us from the world of public radio. He has more than a decade experience covering politics and government in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. In 2021, he produced and hosted "After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor," an Ideastream Public Media podcast on the Cleveland mayoral race. He has also covered breaking news, opioid lawsuits and elections nationally for NPR.