Cleveland police chief grilled over officer shortage, slow response issues: I-Team

I-Team

CLEVELAND (WJW) — A FOX 8 I-Team investigation has sparked hard questions for Cleveland’s police chief with council members now demanding answers about a shortage of officers.

This week, the I-Team revealed, Sunday morning, it took 12 minutes to get officers to a shooting at West 146th and Lorain Avenue. And, we revealed an internal staffing report showing the number of Cleveland police patrol officers down nearly a quarter.

All of that came up, Wednesday, at a city council hearing. Council members pressed the police chief about the shortage of officers.

Councilman Mike Polensek asked specifically about the I-Team report, saying: “We all know how important our basic car plan is with regard to response time in our neighborhoods.”

Yet, even though no officers were immediately available to go to that Sunday shooting, Chief Calvin Williams told council, “We always staff our car plan. We always have extra folks out there … But there were no major issues in staffing the car plan this weekend.”

Still, Councilman Joe Jones said, “We’re in a state of crisis.”

He wanted to know how the Police department fell so far behind in the total number of officers, saying “this is a major issue. We should have foresaw it coming.”

So, what about getting more officers into patrol cars? The chief says, in weeks, more than 30 rookies will graduate. And in the months ahead, the city plans to hire and train dozens more officers.

But, at the same time, the I-Team has found the number officers leaving the Cleveland Police Department has gone up sharply.

“We can’t force people to become Cleveland Police officers,” Williams said.

He also said cities nationwide are struggling to hire and keep police officers.

However, you’re seeing the impact on the streets of Cleveland. And, the discussion at that council hearing is just the beginning. Council plans a full safety meeting on these issues next week.

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