Cleveland city leaders discuss future police and fire layoffs

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Cleveland Police Chief Michael Mcgrath said despite looming layoffs because of state budget cuts police will still make emergency calls a priority and respond as soon as possible. But Chief McGrath said quality of life calls like loud music and barking dogs will probably go unanswered.

Steve Loomis president of the police union disagreed saying response to all calls will be delayed with any number of layoffs because police are already stretched thin.  Loomis said murders in the city are up over last year and said the layoffs would hit at the worst time during the summer when crime tends to rise.

There have been 23 murders in Cleveland this year compared to 20 a year ago at the same time.

The layoffs were discussed by Cleveland city officials during a special meeting at Cleveland City Hall to answer questions over concerns about 400 proposed layoffs in the city of Cleveland.

Many of the layoffs involve safety forces and could lead to fire stations being closed and a reduction in routine police patrols. Police and fire officials are concerned about layoffs because 60 percent of the city's budget is spent on safety resources. The directors of all safety departments were on hand to discuss the looming cuts.

A large group of police officers attended the meeting, expressing concerns about job cuts.

Down the road, the group said they will discuss two proposals beyond Wednesday's meeting. The first is a proposal that the Cuyahoga County Sheriffs Department take over administrative duties at the city jail, which would be a way to cut costs and share resources.

A second proposal is that the Cleveland Fire Department would share resources and fire stations with surrounding suburbs

The Safety Committee wanted to know exactly how many of the layoffs would involved police officers and fire fighters, but Safety Director Martin Flask said the exact numbers are still a work in progress "our goal is to limit the damage the state imposed reduction is causing to the citizens of Cleveland and I take that seriously" Flask said. 

Layoffs will impact departments throughout the city including the streets and sanitation departments as well as building and code enforcement. Garbage pick up and pot hole repair will be delayed after the layoffs.


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