Thursday, February 26, 2004

Cleveland cops close to offers

Recruiters identify 30 prime candidates

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Thirty laid-off Cleveland police officers could be working on Cincinnati's streets by mid-summer.

Cincinnati recruiters are finalizing job offers, and those who accept will likely start 10 weeks of training March 22. City officials said they are pleased with the group's diversity: Half are African-American, five are Hispanic, one is Vietnamese, said Ted Schoch, training director.

Four speak fluent Spanish. One has been an officer 10 years.

The 30 were whittled from an original list of about 105. Of that number, three were female, one of whom made the final cut.

"They're our youngest, most aggressive police officers,'' said John Kincaid, vice president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association union in Cleveland, where the officers were among 262 laid off Jan. 1.

"They're all between 24 and 35, they've been on (at least) two years,'' he said. "If you've worked two years in Cleveland, you can work anywhere.''

In Cincinnati, the officers will be on probation for a year and spend 10 weeks in field training with local officers instead of 12 weeks. They will earn nearly $41,000.

"We're kind of excited,'' Schoch said. "They seem like a good bunch of people.''

They were interviewed by a panel of Cincinnati officers and, like all officers in the hiring process, were interviewed by psychologists and took lie-detector tests. One man was eliminated after his background check revealed he was wanted on a theft charge.

Sixteen of the 30 have said they will take the jobs. Schoch's staff is in the process of getting written commitments from them. Some cities are requiring the officers to sign three-year commitments, to prevent them from returning to Cleveland if - as Kincaid expects - the city gradually rehires the officers. Five of the 262 have been hired back by Cleveland.

Schoch said Cincinnati did not think contracts were necessary.

Seattle, Detroit, New Orleans, Atlanta and Anchorage also recruited the Cleveland officers. Atlanta is expected to take about 30 officers as well, Kincaid said.


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