Cleveland's police chief talks at a city council meeting.
Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond talks to City Council's Safety Committe on Aug. 2. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Covered by Documenters Monica Doyle (Notes) and Christina Easter (Tweets)

Officer recruitment

Cleveland City Council members asked safety leaders about the city’s continuing struggles with recruitment and hiring of patrol officers. Council approved money to hire up to 180 officers this year but has hired only 23. Police Chief Wayne Drummond said other cities also are seeing fewer applications and a slim number of applicants – about 10% – who are hired. Many recent applicants have withdrawn from consideration. Others are screened out after checks reveal evidence online of drug use or sexist or racist statements, safety officials said. Another issue is that cadets in the academy make only $15 an hour.  The city is working on raising that and negotiating with the police unions for additional pay or retention bonuses. 

Smart and safe technology?

Safety officials said that technology is filling some gaps in enforcement. That includes voluntary access to surveillance cameras owned by residents and businesses and the expansion of ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection system expanded this spring to cover 13 square miles of the city. Drummond credited ShotSpotter for saving six lives by enabling quick responses. From January through June, the system alerted the department to 2,350 gunshots

Helicopters down (and up)

Council President Blaine Griffin asked about the city’s two helicopters. Officials asked council in 2022  to direct close to $3 million in federal stimulus money to fully refurbish the helicopters, which are used for special events and also to track fleeing suspects.

Drummond said the company hired to rebuild them filed for bankruptcy, which slowed down the process. It’s now back on track. During the meeting the helicopters were down for maintenance, but at least one was back in the air by the end of the week, officials said.

Learn more about ShotSpotter with our primer.

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Read the live-tweet thread from Documenter Christina Easter:

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Community and Special Projects Editor (she/her)
Rachel leads our special projects work on topics that demand deeper coverage, and works with Cleveland Documenters and Signal staff to report those stories for wider understanding and accountability. She is our liaison with the Marshall Project in Cleveland where she focuses on including residents' voices in criminal justice reporting. Rachel has reported in Cleveland for more than two decades on stories that have changed laws, policies, hearts and minds. She was part of the team that helped launch Cleveland Documenters in 2020, and she was a John S. Knight Community Impact Fellow in 2021. Dissell is a two-time winner of the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma for narrative stories about teen dating violence and systemic failures with rape investigations.