CLEVELAND, Ohio — The number of police officers on the streets in cities and towns across the country is declining.
There are about 750,000 police officers nationwide.
The shortage varies from department to department but nationally, since 2013, the number of working sworn officers has decreased by about 23,000.
The trend is in Northeast Ohio as well. Multiple departments are having the same problem.
In Willoughby in 2012, 59 people took their civil service test. In 2018, there were 50.
In Fairview Park, this year, 70 people took the exam. That number is down from 138 in 2015.
For the first time ever, the Bedford Police Department recruited applicants last year. Still, only had 29 people sign up for their test.
That’s a big difference from the 1990s when Bedford’s Deputy Chief Rick Suts was taking tests to be an officer. He remembers taking a police test in Euclid. “They cut it off at 250. We camped out like it was a concert,” said Suts.
Police point to good cops being negatively impacted by the few bad, benefits and compensation, and passing the background checks as factors to the decline.
The Mentor Police Department has changed the way it does business when it trying to attract applicants. The department has taken to social media, recruiting at colleges and putting together a video to attract those who want to protect and serve.
“You have to be like the corporate world when they’re out there recruiting,” said Chief Kevin Knight with the Mentor Police Department.
For as long as Jordan Fisher can remember, he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and be a police officer. He was sworn in as a Bedford police officer last summer. He loves his job and making a difference in the lives of the people in Bedford.
“I think every single officer who puts on a badge everyday makes a difference,” said Fisher.