EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — Police layoffs take effect in a Northeast Ohio community, and the police chief says responding to every emergency could be a challenge.
Starting Monday, 21 employees of the East Cleveland police department are out of a job. They include dispatchers, corrections officers and 10 police officers.
“You can only get knocked down so many times before you get knocked out,” said Chief Ralph Spotts.
Spotts said he fears what might happen in his city now that 21 police employees are off the street. He believes it will change the quality of life for the community.
“We will be able to get to every emergency as long as it’s just one emergency at a time. A second emergency we won’t be able to deal with, but as far as how we patrol, that’s going to be totally affected,” Spotts said.
The layoffs were necessary due to financial problems in the city. In the past, Mayor Gary Norton has blamed the city council for cutting the police budget by 25 percent. City Council leaders said the city is broke and have blamed the mayor for being fiscally irresponsible.
“It doesn’t matter whose fault it is or who’s pointing fingers at who. It’s not being resolved, and I think the community has to understand that this has to be resolved because if this continues, it’s going to put the city back five or 10 years,” said the chief.
Spotts said even though 10 officers were laid off, some of the remaining 47 officers have to be pulled from the street to take the place of laid off dispatchers and corrections officers.
“It’s a reason that I don’t really say how many officers, but it’s reduced quite a bit, and I will say the inside staffing, it’s only one dispatcher on duty at a time, which means, when we had 2 or 3, which means when the phones ring, they’ll keep ringing,” he said.
“I think that even before they laid them off there wasn’t enough out there, so laying them off is terrible,” said East Cleveland resident Tynisha McClinton.
People who live in East Cleveland said the city cannot afford to have less police protection.
“Crime is already rampant as it is, so without extra police protection, you’re just giving it a free will,” said another resident.
“We need to get together more now. That’s all I can get out of it. We just need to come together more often than depending on them because now that we ain’t got ‘em, we got each other,” said resident Tesman Fluker.
East Cleveland City Council President Dr. Joy Jordan sent Fox 8 an email she sent to Norton.
She said Governor John Kasich has appointed individuals who will serve on a commission that will oversee East Cleveland’s finances.
Jordan said any request to increase the city’s budget should go to them.
For more on the layoffs, click here.