TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - For over a year, the Toledo Police Department's staffing levels continue to drop as more officers retire.
Toledo Mayoral candidate Wade Kapszukiewicz held a press conference on Tuesday to outline a plan to improve those numbers.
The centerpiece of Kapszukiewicz's public safety and policing plan is to hire an additional 40 police officers every year that he is mayor if elected.
This would balance out the retirements and add 60 officers to the force by the end of his four-year term.
"It is reckless and irresponsible for our police staffing levels to be so low when too many of our citizens lie in fear, and when our murder rate is on pace to be at an all-time high," Kapszukiewicz said.
Kapszukiewicz's plan would grow the size of the police force from 602 officers to 660 officers.
Kapszukiewicz said that is the minimum standard and is financially obtainable because there is enough money in the budget to make it happen.
"What I'm proposing is a reasonable plan. Something that is doable, that is obtainable, that is affordable, that can help us grow that force back to a level where we can get ahead of the curve," Kapszukiewicz said.
Kapszukiewicz says the bottom line is to get bigger classes of recruits through the police academy.
Kapszukiewicz is not the only mayoral candidate saying the city needs more officers on the street. With the high number of retirements, all the candidates believe something should be done to counteract the retirements.
Councilman Tom Waniewski believes before hiring a new classes, changes to the way the department recruits and restructuring the department's staffing is needed.
"We have eight people in essence babysitting the tow lot," Waniewski said. "We don't need that. We could put half of them on the street, so in essence, eliminating redundancy, finding more money that is out there and do a better job recruiting."
Current Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson says she will continue down the path she had already paved by hiring new classes, using better recruiting techniques and giving officers the resources the need to protect the city.
"We have to have a certain number of police on the streets," Mayor Hicks-Hudson said. "We will not go below that while I am mayor. And we will also make sure we have the best technology so we can use both of those in tandem to keep our community safe."
Mayor Hicks-Hudson says the new class will begin training in June, meaning the city will have 40 new officers on the street in by January.