“It’s a scary time right now,“ said Cleveland Police Union President Jeff Follmer. “We are down a bunch of officers and it should be a concern to citizens and council. Right now our numbers are scary low.”
Follmer said the department is down about 250 officers, but he believes that number will get worse soon. He said they could lose another 100 officers by the end of summer.
According to a city document obtained by the FOX 8 I-Team, 19 officers left the department in June. Ten officers resigned and nine others retired.
While the number of officers leaving the department continues to grow, officials not violent crimes are also increasing.
During the July 4th weekend, close to two dozen people were shot and four people were killed in just a matter of a few hours.
The police union president says Issue 24, a charter amendment voters passed back in November to create a new civilian police commission that could discipline officers, is a factor in losing officers, but wages and morale are the main issues.
In November, the Phoenix Police Department tried to recruit Cleveland officers. In May, officials from Columbus were in town also trying to hire some of Cleveland’s finest to work there.
Other suburban departments, like Euclid, that offer higher pay, have also recently hired several Cleveland officers.
The union is currently trying to negotiate a new contract for police officers that would offer higher wages.
“We need to keep our officers here,” Follmer said. “We need them. The mayor is talking about the West Side Market, downtown, all these things for the neighborhoods, but if you don’t have safety, what are your going to do?”
The I-Team reached out to city officials asking to discuss the safety issues but did not receive a response.