CLEVELAND — Cleveland City Council passed legislation increasing the maximum age for someone to join the police force from 40 to 55 on Monday night.
The move came as a proposal from Mayor Justin Bibb as city leaders continue to struggle with recruiting and retaining police officers, with hundreds of positions still needing to be filled to reach the city’s staffing target.
Bibb has said he’s hoping the new age limit will help address the issue.
In council’s committee of the whole meeting on Monday, Public Safety Chief Karrie Howard said he’s heard from folks in the 40 to 55 age range who are interested in joining the force but couldn’t under the old rules.
Now, he’s hopeful they’ll help to fill the shortage the department continues to face.
Although the legislation ultimately passed, some council members expressed concern about the older population’s ability to perform the physical duties of the job.
Howard reassured them that the vetting process will still be rigorous and pointed to other cities, like Cincinnati and Toledo, where there is no age limit for officers.
“Many of the jurisdictions that don’t have that ceiling, they’re still having staffing issues,” Howard said. “This is something that we haven’t tapped into yet, and there really is no negative to this. As members of council have said, maybe our vetting process is too strict. Our vetting process is still going to make sure we put the finest people out on the streets.”
Also at Monday’s council meeting, supporters of the Palestinian community returned for the seventh consecutive meeting, asking council to pass a resolution in support of a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and pointing to city councils like Akron and Detroit, which have passed resolutions extending sympathy to those affected by the conflict.
Council and President Blaine Griffin are also now facing a First Amendment lawsuit for cutting the mic of a resident who used public comment to speak about the political fundraising of individual council members in a late September council meeting.
And, about a year and a half since the legislation to create a Black Women and Girls Commission passed, the mayor and city council swore in their appointees so they can get to work.
The commission was created in response to a 2020 study ranking Cleveland last in the nation in terms of livability for Black women.