Cleveland leaders want more police hired, point to $8.2M in unused funding carried over to 2018

CLEVELAND -

Some Cleveland city leaders believe more police officers should have already been hired, and point to $8.2 million in unused funding being carried over to 2018 by the Cleveland Division of Police.

Cleveland Councilman Michael Polensek referenced the 2017 transfer ordinance report, which he believes indicates more police could have been hired.

Polensek said the report indicated a total of more than $15 million in budget carryovers from key safety divisions like police, EMS and building and housing.

The report listed the large carryover amounts as "savings due to vacancies."

Polensek said the city is also harboring $25 million in a rainy day fund, some of which he believes could be put to good use on safety.

"Right now we don't have enough police on the street," said Polensek. "We have this rainy day fund, and it's raining right now in a whole bunch of neighborhoods.  It's raining crime, it's raining lack of code enforcement, it's raining lack of street repair."

Polensek believes the large budget carryover amounts are due to poor city planning and a growing number of police officers retiring early.

"You've got to do a better job of planning for your deployment," said Polensek. "How many people do you need to deploy out on the streets."

During a Nov. 27 news conference, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said more police officers are on the way in 2018.

Cleveland Finance Director Sharon Dumas issued a statement in response to our story:

"We are concerned about hiring obstacles as well, and we did not believe we would be able to hire all the positions this year.

We will be looking at the hiring process, the union agreements, the on-boarding process, and staffing to help streamline the process, while maintaining the high level of quality for the police recuits."

Meanwhile, Polensek and members of the Cleveland Finance Committee have now asked the administration for a list of all safety openings, hoping to determine why the city is behind in hiring critical safety positions.

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