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CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered a delay in hiring more Cleveland police officers.

This comes with the police force in desperate need of more help.

The next training class for recruits scheduled to start in October has been postponed and no new date has been set.

The Cleveland Police Department is operating about 300 officers short of expected staffing. Officers have been leaving at a rate not seen before.

We’ve confirmed the department ended up with only nine people eligible for that next class.

Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia issued the following statement: 

“Developing contract negotiations, a lower number of applicants was anticipated for the second quarter of open applications. The Division did move forward with selection of the 9 available vetted candidates. We are now working with Civil Service to evaluate third quarter applicants to produce a qualifying class.”

City Council Public Safety Chairman Michael Polensek put the shortage of officers in terms everyone can understand by describing what he hears from city residents.

“They keep asking the same question. ‘Where are the police?’ They don’t see the police officers on their streets. They don’t see the traffic enforcement that they, quite frankly, would like to see,” he said.

While the shortage of police officers is a nationwide problem, the I-Team reviewed an internal Cleveland City Hall memo that described why so many officers are leaving this city’s police force.

The department did “exit interviews” with officers leaving. They said they’re leaving due to low pay, strict discipline and reform in the police department.

Cleveland Officers recently approved a new contract with pay increases, but it does not nearly close the gap with the higher pay offered by many other departments.

A small class of Cleveland police recruits is set to graduate as soon as next week. However, the department is losing many, many more officers than it is hiring.