Shrinking department in Norwood leads police union to push for changes
NORWOOD, Ohio (WKRC) - A local city is losing a lot of police officers and now the union's pushing for changes.
A letter made some serious allegations against management. It seems Norwood's financial problems have started to wear on police.
They've lost more than 10 percent of their manpower since April, and are worried more will go before new officers can be hired.
Phil Cintron spent 11 years as a Norwood Police Officer. He was respected and decorated, but in April he called it quits four years from a pension. He was fed up.
“We weren't really given the tools to do our jobs the right way. We weren't given the proper equipment and funding to do what we needed to do,” said Phil.
Cintron is one of six Norwood officers to leave the department since April. Full staff amount is 54.
“Right now we are at 40. We are approximately 14 people short. We have three people on on-duty injury status right now and there are three other individuals who are in the process of leaving the police department,” said Sgt. Dave Lewis, Chairman of the Norwood Police Wage and Benefit Committee.
That's why Norwood's Police Wage and Benefit Committee drafted the letter. It lays out issues with equipment, notably the mix-and-match fleet of run-down, hand-me-down cruisers.
“There was an incident this year at the Norwood Day Parade where there were only five working cruisers and they had to actually place a wrecked cruiser at the intersection of Norwood and Montgomery to block traffic,” said Sgt. Lewis.
They claim new officers without winter gear and bullet-resistant vests that are too small. They say their chief supports them, but often runs into issues with city management.
“He gets cut off at the knees a lot by the city administration. The mayor and the safety director. People that you wouldn't expect to have any input in the day-to-day operations of the police department,” said Phil.
The committee says it has not yet impacted service, but could if nothing changes.
“Yeah, in the end it could affect the citizens because they are leaving rapidly and our hiring process is a slow process,” said Sgt. Lewis.
The real issue is not just people leaving but experience leaving.
The manpower shortage has forced Norwood to trim from four full-time detectives to two.
They no longer have a drug unit.
Everyone, including detectives, lieutenants, captains and the chief are routinely working patrol shifts.
Despite the challenges, they say they still have strong community support.
Local 12 reached out on Wednesday to all eight members of Norwood City Council, but no one was willing to talk if they returned the call.
Norwood's mayor, a former police captain, also rejected Local 12’s interview request.