East Cleveland, Ohio police officer Charles Battle answers the phone, mans the front window, and keeps the jail monitors in view. When the three-year veteran is laid off next week, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer, one officer will do his three jobs and dispatch the rapid-fire emergency calls as well. “You’ve just got to laugh, to keep from crying,” Battle said. Another officer, Anthony Joiner, says layoffs mean that criminals will flock to the city and be bolder, knowing that nobody is monitoring their moves. “We are going to have to prioritize life-and-death calls,” he said. “How do you do that?”
Police Chief Patricia Lane is trying to answer that question. How will she protect her city with only 49 officers? She and a captain huddled over her nicked desk last week trying to make the numbers work, but math is unflinching, and in East Cleveland, the numbers just won’t add up. “They are strangling us,” Lane muttered. The department will lose an entire shift-13 people- to layoffs next week. It already has lost 21 workers this year. By changing schedules, Lane hopes to put no fewer than three officers on patrol at any time. Captain David Dearden, said, “We’re experimenting with having citizens write their own police reports.” A huge public safety tax proposal on the Nov. 2 ballot would cost owners of a $68,000 house – the median value in East Cleveland – an extra $208 a year.