CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has learned Cleveland police are doing something they’ve never done before to recruit new officers.

This comes as residents continue to wait longer for help because the Cleveland Division of Police is hundreds of officers short.

Monday, a small class of rookies graduated. 25 officers took an oath and were sworn in.

Multiple sources tell the FOX 8 I-Team that the Department is short nearly 300 officers.

So, the I-Team went one-on-one with the police chief about recruiting. He told us the City is now hiring outside help to find candidates to join the police force.

Chief Wayne Drummond said, “I think a lot is being done. We’re in the process now of hiring a professional marketing firm.” He added, “…locally, nationally, regionally, we’re going to put the net out as far as we can.”

The next class now in training has just 18 recruits. And, we reported Friday, that the next new class has been postponed due to not having enough recruits.

Meantime, new records released to the I-Team show, that in top priority emergencies, you are waiting nearly ten minutes for police. A minute longer than a year ago.

Some people have turned to the I-Team after waiting a very long time for police in other cases. Even hours.

The Chief claims the longer wait for police can be tied to officers doing a better job on each call. We listened to his explanation, then followed up.

The Chief said, “Officers are taking their time on assignments. Slow things down. provide the best possible service to the people they’re dealing with at that particular time versus rushing through it to get to another run.”
So, we asked, “If people are waiting longer, isn’t that a function of a shortage of officers?”

He answered, “Could be part of that. I think a combination of both, though.”

We also checked on what’s been happening with recruiting in recent months. A calendar obtained through a records request shows Cleveland police went to lots of local schools, colleges around the state, and even barber shops. But. for example, in the month of January, that calendar shows just one recruiting event.

Some new officers are hitting the street, and the City has a new plan to find more. But, for now, you’ll wait longer when you need a cop right away.