When Akron’s police chief apologetically quit the job Sunday, he created yet another vacancy in a police department that has been working overtime to promote and hire its way out of a potential staffing shortage.

There have been 23 retirements in August and five resignations, including former Chief James Nice. A dozen new hires will replace some of these positions. But this batch of green officers won’t hit the streets until mid-October.

Promotions are piling up, too. Since taking office in 2016, Mayor Dan Horrigan has promoted more than 40 officers to fill a backlog of empty leadership posts, and that’s not counting the 26 promotions then-Mayor Jeff Fusco made in 2015 in his last month steering the city out of its last administrative mess.

A year will pass before the police department’s next five new hires finish their training.

“Clearly the numbers are down,” said Charles Brown, deputy mayor of public safety. “And we’re looking at how we fill these positions in a responsible way — that includes a fiscally responsible way.”

The new chief will lead a force of about 430 officers.

With Nice gone, the city charter gives Mayor Dan Horrigan 90 days to find a permanent replacement. That might get tricky with a thinning crop of eligible candidates.

Brown and Horrigan explained Thursday that city rules guarantee experienced police chiefs by requiring mayors to promote from a current deputy chief, the second-highest rank on the totem pool.

The department has room for four deputy chiefs. There’s Maj. Ken Ball, whose is filling in as provisional chief, and Maj. Michael Caprez, who became the second in command after Maj. Paul Calvaruso retired Thursday — as did six other officers.

So, in short, the mayor’s current choices are limited to Ball or Caprez. But that’s not to say he can’t take a different route.

For starters, he could promote a captain to deputy chief, then quickly promote the new major to chief. Or he could ask the Akron Civil Service Commission to grant him the leeway to reach deeper into the roster, perhaps promoting a captain straight to chief. That’s how Clarence Tucker, the new fire chief, leapfrogged into the top spot earlier this year.

He could also hire from outside the city police force, as former Mayor Don Plusquellic did when he hired Nice in 2011. The city noted that Plusquellic did not promote a police officer in his last nine years as mayor.

Regardless, Horrigan said he’s looking for a particular set of skills and talents to guide the police department out from under “the embarrassment” of its former chief.

“I’m looking for a leader. You know, someone who’s know­ledgeable and empathetic and cares about the community,” said Horrigan. “I’m looking for a guy like Ken Ball.”

To find that person, Horrigan will enlist a search team. If it looks anything like the team he assembled to find his fire chief, it would include Brown, to whom the fire and police chiefs report; chief of staff James Hardy; senior adviser Marco Sommerville; himself; Human Resources Director Don Rice; and perhaps someone from outside City Hall, but with an understanding of what the community might value in its next chief.

Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or dlivingston@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow on Twitter: @ABJDoug.