I TEAM: Cleveland wants to hire more top police bosses

CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I TEAM is investigating a proposal to hire more top-level Cleveland Police supervisors. It has us looking into what this means for safety on your streets, since we’ve shown you the police department has been short-staffed and struggling to get officers to 9-1-1 calls.

The Mayor’s office sent a “proposed charter amendment” to city council that would need approval from Council and voters. The mayor and chief told the I TEAM it would allow for an increase from 4 deputy chiefs to 5 and 13 commanders to 17.

The police supervisors' union says commanders earn $115,000 a year. And the city says deputy chiefs earn between $63,966 and $155,730 a year.

Cleveland has been aggressively hiring more patrol officers. But what about adding more top bosses?

The I TEAM asked the mayor, how does this make the streets safer? Mayor Frank Jackson said, "Well, it make the streets safer in terms of the overall strategy." He and the chief added this is part of an overall restructuring of the department and planning for new crime-fighting programs. The mayor said, "The creation of specialized units that are specifically targeted toward crime reduction. And then, how do we provide real leadership?"

Police Chief Calvin Williams said, "There are a lot of things we have to do to support our front-line officers a lot better."

While the mayor and chief talked about planning for new crime-fighting initiatives and specialized units, they didn’t offer specifics on Monday.

Councilman Mike Polensek has questions. He said, "I'll tell you. I don't need any more bosses." He added, "Stop crime from happening. And then when crime does happen, make sure there's proper investigation. That's what we want.”

Same thing Melinda Vandal wants. Last year, we met her after she showed us how she chased burglars away from her home with a gun even from her wheelchair. She said, "And I don't want to have to feel scared in my own home. Simple as that, so they need more police officers on the street."

Next step, the proposal has to go before Council for hearings. No dates set for that yet, and no telling when this might go before voters.

The Mayor’s office says the proposal would give the city the right to hire more police brass, but it doesn’t automatically mean every position would be filled right away.

Meantime, the Mayor points out, this is not a direct result of the Feds overseeing reform in the police department.