I TEAM: Why are officers painting instead of patrolling?

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CLEVELAND - A FOX 8 I TEAM investigation has found some Cleveland Police officers painting their headquarters, so we’re asking why aren’t they out on patrol?

This comes at a time of desperate shortages of Cleveland officers on your streets.

We’ve confirmed that some officers have been painting rooms and hallways in the Fourth District Headquarters. That’s been happening as the city has been furiously trying to hire more officers.

The I TEAM went to the District Commander. He says the painting is one of many projects to boost morale in an old building. Officers can paint on days off. But they get a vacation day to use later. So we asked, won’t that still end up taking police off of your streets?

Commander Brandon Kutz said, "Well, we gotta be careful with that as well. We gotta be careful they're not accumulating too many days that we owe them. Don't want to end up owing somebody two weeks off.”

We spoke to the Commander as Cleveland City Council members grilled police brass. They asked why aren’t there more police on the streets? When will there be more? Councilman Michael Polensek asked, "Is the message, we all gotta carry pistols? Is that the message?"

The President of the Police Union is also questioning officers painting. Jeff Follmer said, "I get they want a great work environment, but you know, our place right now is the streets. We're short-staffed right now, and everybody needs to be out there."

So what have the officers done inside? The I TEAM wanted to show you what they`ve painted and spruced up. We asked for a look. The Commander said he had to go check with his boss. He came back and the answer was, ‘no.’"

The Commander believes the painting can be done without affecting you now or later. But as we’ve seen, these days on the street, every officer can be critical.

So far, a first floor office and a hallway have been painted. The Commander says the officers will decide what else gets done next. He says grant money has paid for the materials, and he says police have talked to the city trade unions about what they’re doing in the Fourth District.

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