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Police Chief: Officer Shortage Will Get Worse Even After Next Recruit Class

Eliot Isaac
City of Cincinnati
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac

An officer shortage at the Cincinnati Police Department is expected to get worse over the next couple of years. Chief Eliot Isaac told the Budget and Finance Committee Tuesday that there are currently 990 sworn officers.

"We expect to fall to about 938 by the time the class graduates in March of '22," Isaac said. "If this class is 50, that will still put us about 71 officers below our authorized complement."

Isaac says 66 officers left the department last year, the most of any year since they started keeping track. Almost 19% of sworn officers have at least 25 years of service, and they don't expect retirements to slow down.

Overtime to cover the gaps has strained this year's budget. Isaac says a grant will cover the cost of the next two recruit classes.

Credit Cincinnati Police Department
In this graph from the Cincinnati Police Department, the red line indicates the actual number of sworn officers and the green line indicates the projected number over the next year.

Isaac wants to hire two new positions to help deal with a significant backlog in body-worn camera video review. Isaac told a City Council committee Tuesday the team that works with the court system to process the videos can't keep up.

"It has created significant difficulties in prosecuting these cases and being able to provide records and evidence in a timely fashion," Isaac said.

Isaac says the body camera program produces about 6,000 hours of footage every month. He hopes the next city budget includes funds for two new civilian positions on the body camera team.

Council is just beginning the months-long discussion about the budget for next fiscal year, which must be adopted by the end of June.

Read the full budget presentation below: 

Feb. 16, 2021 Police Budget Presentation by WVXU News on Scribd

Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.