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EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — The City of East Cleveland will lay off 20 percent of its police force come January due to lack of funding in the city.

Councilman Nathaniel Martin says council members voted Thursday night to override Mayor Gary Norton’s veto that would have kept the police staff at the current level, and made cuts elsewhere.

In a news release, Norton said the council’s budget cut would cause the city to “have fewer police officers, be less safe and generate less revenue.”

Martin says the city simply can’t afford to pay the police department staff.

“For the last three years, they have told the citizens and council about the spending and hiring problems in the city. They are spending more than they are bringing in. They are in fiscal emergency,” Martin said. “This is unfortunate. Knowing the financial situation … they should not have hired as many officers then.”

Police union representative Detective Scott Gardner says the force was notified of the cuts informally. Additionally, the staff did not receive a breakdown of who will be laid off.

The East Cleveland Police Department currently employees 53-56 civil workers and 40 auxiliary officers.

Mayor Norton, ultimately, will make the decision on the final cuts.

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