CLEVELAND (WJW) – The Cleveland Police Department is down around 300 officers, causing the current force to be stretched thin, yet during the last application process, the city rejected 98 applicants who had passed the civil service exam.

On Thursday, city council’s public safety committee sent a letter to the director of public safety raising questions about those 98 applicants.

According to the letter, there were 295 potential cadets. Of those, 110 withdrew on their own. Others failed either the physical or psychological exam or some other part of the process.

Ninety-eight were rejected and only eleven graduated.

“I’m sure some of them were woefully unqualified but I find it hard to believe that all of them were woefully unqualified,” said Kris Harsh, Councilman Ward 13. “Why were those 98 people passed over?”

He says, so far, council has only received “vague” information as to why they were rejected and that some of it was linked to social media history.

“Some is racism, some is sexism, some is homophobia things like that and that would clearly be a disqualifying trait, but I want to see the actual information for those 98 people,” said Harsh. “They have not provided explicit detail why they were disqualified.” 

Karrie Howard, chief director of the department of public safety sent the following statement:

“We will not sacrifice quality over quantity to address public safety. We are doing everything possible to recruit, attract and retain the next generation of officers who fit our values around constitutionally-appropriate policing. Sacrificing quality only undermines the progress that we’ve made under the consent decree since 2014 – hence why the Administration has a police accountability team, community police commission and continues to invest in new training that meets 21st century policing standards. 

“We have high standards because the public – through the passage of Issue 24 – has made it clear they demand best-in-class officers.  

“Our public safety forces must consist of the best and brightest officers because the public deserves nothing less. We also owe that to our current officers and their families to ensure that they can count on qualified and competent colleagues.”

But council says the department has lost another 99 officers so far this year and they believe if it continues at this rate, the division of police could fall to such a low level they will be unable to provide even basic police coverage.

Harsh says they want to review each application themselves because they believe 98 is a very large number to reject during such difficult times.

“If you’re 23-years-old, you might have 10 years of social media history so I don’t know if something someone said when they were 13 should really be held against them,” said Harsh. “And if all 98 turn out to be completely unsuitable, I get it, that’s fine, but I really want to see that for myself.”