CLEVELAND-- A Cleveland city councilman is concerned about the way part of his district is being patrolled during the midnight hours.
Picture a cruiser parked in a dark parking lot, and the feet of one officer out the window perched on top of the mirror. Is this how you envision the shift of on-duty Cleveland police officers?
I-Team cameras found a 3rd District zone car, and the two officers inside of it, parked in a parking lot off of East 38th near Superior for hours, on three different nights: October 31, November 1 and November 8, during the midnight shift.
Not only do they appear relaxed, it also appears in the video that the one officer is urinating, which is something that offended Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed when he viewed the video earlier this week.
"To urinate outside, it's unacceptable. It is not right. It is not fair. We know it's indecent exposure. It's against the law, and I don't think they can defend it, and I won't defend it," Reed said.
After viewing the car parked for several hours on November 8, we asked the officers exactly what they were doing. They denied they were sleeping and say the area is in the middle of the zone they are to patrol.
"This area is known for having a lot of break-ins with the businesses, so we give it special attention," the one officer said.
The officers would not say how much time they spend during the shift sitting in the lot. The councilman for this district says he doesn't want officers sitting in a parking lot. He says he wants the cruiser out in the neighborhoods.
"I do not want this in my district," said Councilman Jeff Johnson. "This is unacceptable in my community. This is the St. Clair and Superior neighborhoods, and we try to hold down crime."
We first found the cruiser sitting idle in a lot on October 31, just days after the city was hit with the remnants of Hurricane Sandy. Many officers were working overtime, guarding downed power lines and blocking flooded streets.
On that night, our I-Team cameras spotted the officers parked in the dark at 4 a.m. They left for 11 minutes and then returned, staying there for an hour.
Other officers told us they worked 18 hours straight guarding the flooded streets and were waiting for relief.
The cruiser returned to the parking lot the following evening, first spotted shortly after 2 a.m. and then returning at 4:24 a.m. for more than an hour. During that time, an officer appears to get out and urinate.
When asked if the officers did go to the bathroom in the parking lot, they said they didn't.
On November 8, the cruiser was spotted in the same location at 12:38 a.m. and didn't move until 2:51 a.m.
"They are actually violating the idling law of the city of Cleveland," Johnson said. "A car sitting there so long is a violation of city law."
Police officials declined to talk on camera saying our story has sparked an investigation by the department's integrity control section. A written statement from the department says that once the investigation has concluded and if the officers are found guilty of a criminal or administrative offense, they will be dealt with. It also states that the police department expects and demands that the officers have integrity, show professionalism when on duty and off.
"That is just unacceptable," Johnson said. "It is. It goes against every standard of conduct the Cleveland Police Department has expressed to council."
Johnson says he plans to talk to the mayor, police chief and the director of public safety about the matter, as soon as possible.