Putting a Face on a Number

Note: This week, I received an award (thanks Ann T.) and was tagged (thanks HurstBurst). I'll have a corresponding post to meet the requirements of that recognition soon.


The poor economy not only impacts businesses and citizens, but government agencies as well—as government is dependent on struggling for-profit companies for tax revenues.

As a result, government officials will deal with shrinking income through a variety of actions including tax hikes, hiring freezes, service reductions, and/or layoffs.

I mentioned in a previous post that the Cleveland Police Department reduced its force by 67 earlier this month. That represents around 4% of their sworn personnel. Previously in 2004, the agency was downsized by 250 officers.

It is easy to get lost in the aggregate job-loss totals and forget about the lives impacted by each reduction.

One of the 67 faces in Cleveland’s total is Michael Schmitt.

Schmitt was working as a police safety aide at the department’s training academy when he was told of his job loss.

The former officer took the job after he was seriously injured on-duty--shot in the face during a struggle with a homeless PCP-user that had attacked him.

The bullet passed through the officer’s jaw and lodged into his brain.

After months of surgeries and the removal of part of his skull, Schmitt recovered, but was obviously unable to meet the physical requirements to be a police officer in Cleveland any longer and had taken a new job as a non-sworn support employee for the department.

I can't imagine the regret that the mayor, local officials, and police managers must have had in accepting this workforce reduction--especially with Officer Schmitt's situation.

Schmitt appears to be an intelligent man with marketable professional skills. I hope that he finds another job opportunity soon.

His award medal for valor from the Cleveland Police Department will not soon be forgotten, but unfortunately, he won’t continue working for the agency where he nearly paid the ultimate sacrifice.


The photo was used from here.


Bob G. said...

That is a moving story, yet I can't help but think that although Officer Schmitt was (after his recovery) a NON-sworn support employee, (like all who have swormn oaths), he was never UN-SWORN, so there is that (unseen) duty to that oath, which I'm sure he STILL takes to heart.

Were I the mayor or PD chief of that city, I would consider it MY DUTY to make sure that (officer) Michael Schmitt retained a position in the department...

To do anything lessblendas does a great disservice to Schmitt, the department, the community and our society.

But hey, that's just *my* opinion.

Good post.

Sandy said...

Sad story, unfortunate sign of the times. Hopefully he will find another position that will keep him in touch with the young people I'm sure he was helping.

J. J. in Phila said...

While it is a sign of the times, I do understand both sides.

Nobody wants to see someone like Mr. Schmitt lose his job. The citizens, though their elected representatives, cannot, however, afford to keep his position funded.

You discussed with me the use of volunteers, specifically college students, to supplement police departments. Something like that might have led to a savings and may have helped Mr. Schmitt stay on.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
I find myself torn by this post. I want Officer Schmitt to have the job there as long as he wants it. And I feel indignant on his behalf.

Maybe the world will have better in store for him. But I so with the world did not chew people up and spit them out as often as it does.

He may not be in that position. He may have new resources and opportunities open up. I hope somebody makes sure of it--his family, friends, union, and other supporters.

Ann T.

A Doc 2 Be said...


Somewhere along the way, elected politicians forgot who gave them their position, and who they owe whom. In cases like this, it is not the padding of the pocket that they owe, but their most sincere respect for this man.

The elected politicians of Cleveland have failed. Failed to properly respect an individual who almost gave his life to protect theirs. The powers that be should be ashamed of themselves, I know I am for them.

Sort of makes me my throat a little wet, if you know what I mean /wink.


Luisa Doraz said...

Society has a way of expressing opinions, yet doing nothing about it. I wish we could all stand behind our words.

Ann T. said...

Dear Luisa,
You are quite right. Were I a citizen of Cleveland I would be writing firm letters to my mayor, alderman, and the Cleveland PD.

I can't think what else to do. If you have an idea, I would be more than glad to hear it. Otherwise I share your triste . . .

Ann T.

Iva said...

Congratulations on your award!! have a great weekend!!

Rhiannon Banda-Scott said...

wow this is so sad. I never understand why things like this happen. I really don't. Thanks for sharing though. Maybe this story will inspire changes??

Rowe said...

It does make one ask, but why? Sending best wishes towards Michael Schmitt and also hope he finds a great job soon.

Holly said...

The impact of the economy just hits everyone somehow...such a heartbreaking story.

Ozias said...

That's too bad what happened to Officer Schmitt, I can't believe they didn't keep him in a different job in the department.

terri said...

I guess this economy doesn't care who you are. I'm sure Officer Schmitt will land on his feet though.

Dan said...

As a former mayor, I understand both sides. I also realize that the same citizens who campaign to retain Mr. Schmidt today will be the first to demand cuts when the budget no longer balances tomorrow.

The really sad fact of life is that every department in a city has someone like Mr. Schmidt to which we should be able to express loyalty for honorable service in the face of life threatening events, but the financial times and voters prohibit that treatment.

BobKat said...

With due respect to Officer Schmitt... there is collateral damage. Officer Schmitt lost his job not because of the citizens of Cleveland, but because of extremely poor results from those government officials whose job it was to make sure the "Great Recession" never happened... but it did. And many of us are suffering as a result of very poor judgement and lack of oversight and regulation into our financial markets. Companies "too big to fail", that did fail... that's the reality!

Speaking of Reality it's time we faced it - the facts. Seems to me in the last 110 years we have lost focus on "We The People"... it's become They: "The Politicians".

Officer Schmitt should be secure in having a job - despite the current economy. He sacrificed nearly his life for the citizens of this country... it's only fair he's given an opportunity for alternative employment for the city government he nearly died for - in the line of duty.

I'm hoping... the day of the "employer is over... that "We the People" will get a fair chance in the future. Currently... the average person is at the mercy of their employer... it's a trend that's endured for thousands of years... it's a trend that clearly implies, people are expendable. Officer Schmitt - is a victim of that mentality.

JennyMac said...

WOW...the story about Officer Schmitt is so heroic and terribly disconcerting at the same time. Law enforcement is such a risky and often thankless job. I am glad he received some commendation but it hardly gives back everything he lost.

RD said...

Thank you for a very effective post.

MONICA-LnP said...

This is a very touching story that makes me tear up,cant even imagine...
thank you for sharing and reminding me to be THANKFUL every day!

James (SeattleDad) said...

Wow, that is just wrong. You would think that there would be some way to keep him on the payroll.

Sandra G. said...

I second Bob G's comment.

If an officer in our department were to suffer the same injury and be unable to work as a patrol officer as a result, that officer would be found a position elsewhere within the department and keep the right to hold the badge.

Shame on you, Cleveland PD, for letting Officer Schmitt go, particularly if he was let go due to downsizing restrictions.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the feedback all.

I think the situation can be argued well from either side (JJ & Dan's insights versus (Doc2Be, James, Sandra, and others).

I think it is important to note that the original article stated that the officer had taken some type of pension before leaving the sworn ranks. This would seem to indicate that the city government had not abandoned the officer, and would continue to help him in some manner.

My point with the article was more informative--simply telling the officer's story and trying to put a face on a layoff statistic.