Newly Sworn Cadets Immediately Laid Off
Newly sworn in Cleveland Police officers participate during in the 128th Police Academy graduation ceremony Friday, June 24, 2011, in Cleveland. [AP]
June 27, 2011
CLEVELAND – Amid tears and cheers, 42 police academy cadets joined the Cleveland force Friday and were immediately laid off as a one-month reprieve expired, underscoring shrinking municipal work forces as cities cope with declining revenues and less state and federal assistance.
The city and police union struck a deal in May to allow the cadets to remain in class and graduate as scheduled. The move gives them a better chance to find a job by doubling their certification to four years.
Newly sworn Patrolman Robert O’Brien felt the emotional pangs of the up-and-down day in the colonnaded rotunda of City Hall in Cleveland, the state’s second-largest city with nearly 400,000 residents.
“Mixed emotions, yes, but we all have faith,” he said. “A lot of it was touching for me. Just the fact that I graduated and I’m entering into a new family is very emotional to all of us, me in particular, but I know everyone as well.”
Officer Sabrina R. Choat wipes a tear away during the 128th Police Academy graduation ceremony Friday, June 24, 2011, in Cleveland.
O’Brien said he would look for a job “to keep myself occupied and in the mindset so I stay in this profession.”
The city laid off 321 employees, including 81 police officers. Cleveland officials blamed the layoffs on cuts to state aid.
States face combined budget shortfalls of nearly $140 billion next year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington think tank. And states will no longer be able to count on billions in aid from the federal government’s $800 billion stimulus that is set to dry up early next year.
Rookie John Hotz said he was determined to stay positive about his chances to land a police job in an improving economy.
“I’m happy, I’m content. When it comes back, we’ll be back,” he said.
Until a police job opens up, Hotz said he plans to work but didn’t specify what he will do.
U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott told the newly sworn officers that they will get a chance to make use of their academy training at some point.
“Know that your hard work will pay off,” he said.
City Council President Martin Sweeney told the new officers that he would work with the mayor and his council colleagues to get them hired back as soon as possible.