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How to Become a Police Officer in Cleveland

Cleveland has a population of over 385,000 residents.1 The cost of living in the city is 21% less than the national average and housing costs are 70% lower, making Cleveland one of America’s more affordable cities.2 However, it is also one of America’s most dangerous cities; in 2016, based on a violent crime rate of 1,631 per 100,000 residents, the city was ranked #7 in the most dangerous cities in America.3 To combat crime, the Cleveland Division of Police employs over 1,600 officers in uniform and is the largest police department in the state of Ohio.4 Aspiring cops will find that Cleveland is a great place to start their law enforcement career. Individuals wishing to become a part of the Cleveland Police Division will find information on the application, selection and training process below.

Cleveland Police Officer Requirements

The Cleveland police recruitment process is based on a competitive ranking of applicants through each stage of screening. The process begins with prerequisites that all candidates must meet. To become a member of the CPD, applicants must:

  • Be between the ages of 21 and 40
  • Be a US citizen
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Possess a valid Ohio driver’s license
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Have no disqualifying misdemeanor convictions, including domestic violence
  • Be honorably discharged from the military, if a veteran

Residents of Cleveland may receive 10 bonus points in the competitive police hiring selection process, though residency is not a prerequisite to hire. All potential cops must first pass the City of Cleveland civil service written exam and take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) assessment. Applicants are also required to pass a physical fitness test, complete a personal history questionnaire, participate in a formal interview, pass a medical exam, and undergo a psychological evaluation. Accepted applicants will be invited to complete recruit training as conditional hires.

For more information about becoming a law enforcement officer in a big city like Cleveland, check out 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our home page.

Calvin D. Williams was appointed to serve as Chief of Police in 2014. Chief Williams began his career with the Cleveland Police Division in 1986. Over his nearly 30-year career, Mr. Williams has worked as the supervisor of the SWAT, fugitive, and vice units. He was Commander of the Third District and was eventually promoted to Deputy Chief of Field Operations.

Cleveland Police Academy

Police recruits must attend the six-month Cleveland Police Academy before becoming a CPD cop. During their six months in the academy, recruits are compensated for their time. The academy consists of over 1,100 hours of instruction in police tactics, the law, driver education, firearms, and other topics. Recruits must keep detailed notes during their training, and these notes are periodically inspected for content, neatness, and formatting. Across the training curriculum, cadets must maintain an overall grade of 70% or better.4 To graduate from the academy and be sworn in as officers, recruits must pass the Ohio written examination, firearms examination, and final physical examination for peace officers.

Cleveland Division of Police Information

The Division has three main operations: administrative, field, and homeland operations. Uniform patrol is housed in field operations. The Cleveland Police Department has five districts. Each district is further segmented into zones. The Department has many specialized units that qualified law enforcement officers can work in, some of which include the aviation unit, bomb squad, forensics, K-9, and vice units.

The CPD has several opportunities for youth and adults to build relationships with law enforcement officers. The department has programs for adults including brown bag safety seminars, the Safe and Smart Program which educates citizens on basic crime prevention strategies, and Senior Power, a group that connects police, EMTs, the fire department, and the Department of Aging with seniors in an effort to educate them on public safety matters specific to the older population.

The CPD also offers a Citizen’s Police Academy. This academy is for residents 18 and older and includes a tour of police headquarters, the outdoor range, and the Cleveland Police Museum. The academy includes several presentations and attendees will be able to learn about police processes and operations.

There are also youth participation programs sponsored by the CPD. The department has a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program aimed at teaching 5th graders how to deal with peer pressure and resist the temptation to do drugs. The department also has a Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program to teach children to abstain from gangs. The Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program is a program that shows children the dangers of firearms and how to handle the situation if they find a gun.

The CPD also has a Police Explorer’s program. The Explorer’s program is presented in partnership with Boy Scouts of America for young boys and girls to learn more about the careers of law enforcement officers. Children must be between the ages of 14 and 21 to participate.

Department Contact Information

1300 Ontario St
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 621-1234
CPD Website
CPD Facebook
CPD Twitter

Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook

During academy training, Cleveland police recruits earn a standard rate of $15 per hour until the 22nd week of the academy, at which point their salary will increase to $51,691 per year.4 As of 2017, the average salary for Cleveland area police officers was $60,440.5 Cleveland police officers receive generous benefits, including health and life insurance, tuition reimbursement, and uniform allotment. After five years of police service, law enforcement officers will receive a yearly longevity bonus. As employees of the City of Cleveland police officers participate in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), which takes a 10% pre-tax payroll deduction for the retirement plan.4 Deferred compensation plans are also offered.

The number of cops in Ohio is projected to increase by 2.5% through 2026.6 The exact number of police officers hired depends on the city’s annual budget and police resignations and retirements for the year. However, the Cleveland Division of Police is anticipating continuing to hire new police at an expanded rate, with a projected 100 new officers in the first quarter of 2019 alone.7 The projected growth of law enforcement officers makes Cleveland a great place to start a career as a cop.

To view open listings for police officers in Cleveland, visit our jobs board page.

Additional Resources

  • Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association – The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association (CPPA) is the labor union and bargaining unit for all non-supervisory patrol officers working in Cleveland.
  • The Fraternal Order of Police Cleveland Lodge #8 – The Fraternal Order of Police Cleveland is a professional organization with members who are both active and retired law enforcement. The organization provides continuing development as well as legislative advocacy.

References:
1. Data USA, Cleveland, OH: https://datausa.io/profile/geo/cleveland-oh/
2. Sperling’s Best Places, Cleveland, OH: https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/city/ohio/cleveland
3. CBS News, “The Most Dangerous Cities in America, Ranked,” 2016: https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/the-most-dangerous-cities-in-america/38/
4. City of Cleveland Division of Police: http://www.city.cleveland.oh.us/CityofCleveland/Home/Government/CityAgencies/PublicSafety/Police/
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Cleveland-Elyria, OH: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_17460.htm
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
7. Fox 8 Cleveland, “140th Cleveland Police Academy Graduates 49 Officers, 1 Fire Investigator,” 24 Aug. 2018: https://fox8.com/2018/08/24/140th-cleveland-police-academy-graduates-49-officers-1-fire-investigator/