I-Team: Cleveland police officers fighting for right to use vacation during RNC

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CLEVELAND - The Fox 8 I-Team has uncovered a battle raging behind plans for police protection for this summer’s Republican National Convention. An arbitrator is deciding if Cleveland Police officers should be allowed to take vacation time around the RNC.

Cleveland Police are promising extra patrols in neighborhoods, and the city says it is bringing in thousands of outside officers to help with security. And, the police union has warned there may not be enough officers. So, we went to the union president about the vacations.

“If the success or failure of the Convention falls on the shoulders of 50 people, then we’re in even bigger trouble than I think we’re in,” said Police Union President Steve Loomis.

The union says about 50 Cleveland officers are on vacation each week, but the city said no police vacations for a 3-week period in July. So, the union said it asked for an extra personal day off for officers, but that was rejected. Loomis added, “We were happily willing to sit down at a table and negotiate a solution to this. The city shut us down on that.”

Earlier this week, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams told a council committee, “No one’s taking a vacation throughout the Division of Police, myself included, and the Deputy Chief, that week.”

The firefighters union tells the I-Team, firefighters convinced the city to allow them to take vacations. They argued, the city will have enough firefighters for regular staffing and more crews working overtime even with vacations.”
Meantime, the EMS union says it reached an agreement with the city to freeze time off for paramedics around the RNC.

The police union says patrol staffing should be under a spotlight year-round, not just for the Convention. Loomis said, “We sacrifice every single day that we go out on the road. We’re short-staffed every single day of the week.”

It is not clear when the arbitrator will decide the police vacation matter.