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Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association president says understaffing in department is major concern

CPPA President Jeff Folmer says Cleveland should have around 1,500 officers on its police force. Right now, they're more than 250 short.

CLEVELAND — Overloaded, overworked and understaffed.

That's what Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association President Jeff Follmer says they're up against during what's been a violent year thus far.

"Our homicide units, our detective bureau, our sex crime units, domestic violence all getting overloaded with cases, and this plays a lot into fatigue there," Follmer said.

Follmer says Cleveland's police force should sit at around 1,500 officers. Right now, they are between 260 and 270 (or about 18%) short right now, with small police academy classes coming up.

"We have one that's graduating next Friday, that's only 29 and we have a group and from what I heard only 21 passed the physical agility, so I think there's only 21 in the next one," Follmer said.

That's just a portion of what needs to be made up as other officers continue to leave or retire, stacking up caseloads and overtime hours.

"To go out there and arrest the bad people out there that are just making this city more violent. There's no time to go after people right now because we're going from run to run to run," Follmer said.

Follmer believes the passage of Issue 24, which will create a community police commission with final decision on police policies and the discipline of officers, is driving more officers away, saying they already have enough oversight with the Department of Justice and the city itself.

New Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond spoke about dealing with the commission during a recent conversation with 3News' Russ Mitchell. 

"My responsibility as the new chief of police is to make sure that partnership (between police and the commission) happens, that there's collaboration, and to show them that we're a decent police department. We hold people accountable. But also, when officers do the right things, we should commend them and support them," Drummond said.

To put some more perspective on the staffing shortage, Follmer says a recommended caseload for a homicide detective is between four and six.

The Cleveland Division of Police has already added 101 homicide investigations to their loads this year and that's split between two 4 to 5 person crews.

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