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Cleveland PD sees jump in recruits after extending age range for applications

There are 52 recruits in the current academy class, making it one of the largest classes in recent years

Cleveland Police

Cleveland Police

By Olivia Mitchell
cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland has 52 recruits in its next police academy class, making it one of the largest classes in recent years, city officials said Monday.

At least 10 of those trainees are between 40 and 54 years old, the result of Cleveland City Council extending the age range of prospective officers.

The increase comes as the city struggles to find officers for a depleted force. Last May, nine officers graduated from the city’s academy, which was the smallest number the city has had in 25 years. In 2023, the department hired a total of 21 officers.

The city’s force has about 1,170 officers; in recent years, it had 1,600. The shortage of officers goes beyond Cleveland, and it has become an issue nationally.

Mayor Justin Bibb touted the increase in recruits as part of an initiative to fight violent crime in the city. The move included a push to recruit more officers, expand the use of technology and partner with state and federal agencies.

“Clevelanders deserve results, and this large academy class is a direct product of my administration’s cumulative efforts over the last several months,” Bibb said. “I’m proud of what we have accomplished so far, but there is a lot more work to be done. We will continue working day and night to keep our city safe.”

The number of recruits in the next class is still a drop from previous years. In 2000, 101 students attended the academy, with 87 graduating.

The new group, however, arrives at a critical time as more officers are headed for retirement. At least 255 current officers have 25 years of experience, the amount of service needed for full retirement.

Last year, the department lost nearly 165 officers, and it is expected to lose the same number this year. The police department is budgeted for 1,350 officers. The department has lost qualified officers from resignations, retirements, and poaching from other departments.

The city has increased its drive to find recruits, including a 50% pay increase for their time in the academy and a $5,000 sign on bonus. Current officers also saw a bump in pay.

Recruits will be in the academy for seven and a half months. They will be trained on local policies, protocols, procedures and other basic training required by the state to become officers. Officers in the recent academy class should be eligible for basic patrol by November.

“(The recruits) have all made the selfless decision to join a noble profession, and I am confident that each new recruit will make valuable contributions to the City of Cleveland for many years to come,” said Wayne Drummond , the city’s interim safety director and former chief.

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