We now have what some officers told the city in their own words.
We’ve obtained summaries of some exit surveys and they shed new light on why the Cleveland police force is now hundreds of officers short.
The I-Team first requested the surveys back in March. City hall just released them after six months.
The surveys reflect the views of police leaving the force and medics leaving EMS during the first quarter of the year.
Half noted “dissatisfied with pay.”
But, among the other reasons, “no support from upper administration… the division is too eager to put people up on (internal) charges.”
In fact, two-thirds marked “morale is poor.”
We’ve shown you that Cleveland EMS is short-staffed, struggling to get ambulances to critical emergencies, and the police department is hundreds of officers short.
We’ve also shown you the shortage can lead to delays getting help when you call 911.
The I-Team spoke to a former Cleveland officer now working for another department. We asked him why he left.
“Nothing was fair across the board,” he said.
He also said what we saw in the surveys.
Two-thirds enjoyed their “type of work.” But, they had other factors for leaving including, “citizens deciding your discipline.”
“Loved serving for the city and it’s the hardest decision to make to leave, but at the end of the day, the right thing to do for your family,” the former officer said.
Recently, Mayor Justin Bibb announced big raises for Cleveland police since officers agreed to work 12-hour shifts.
Both police and EMS also got raises in their latest contracts. So, the police unions have been satisfied pay is being addressed.
At a news conference announcing the latest raises, the mayor said, “Since I took office, we have had a sense of urgency around public safety, and that sense of urgency has not stopped.”
But, the surveys also address what needs changing. Many responded to the need to improve employee morale, recognition for a job well done and policies and procedures.
One person also noted “political bickering… getting in the way of making decisions.”
“Right. Money isn’t everything,” the former officer said.
The city hopes the pay raises lead to more recruits, but the surveys show it may take more than that to stop officers and medics from leaving.