CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Fox 8 I-Team has uncovered new warnings about gaps in security protecting your water and electricity.
Our investigation, now, has led the union to speak out for Cleveland Public Utilities Police. Putting a new spotlight on the water you drink and the electrical power you use.
Last month, the I-Team revealed someone had crashed a gate at the Fairmount water pumping station. Records show that no one there noticed for two-and-a-half hours.
Now, the union for utilities officers is sounding the alarm about short-staffing and security cameras not working.
Danielle Chaffin, an attorney with the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said, “I think the public should be very concerned about this. People were upset when a car crashed into a gate. This is a lot bigger issue to me.”
Utilities police protect plants for Cleveland Water and Cleveland Public Power.
In the recent case at the water pumping station, someone crashed a fence and then ended up driving off. The union said this exposed common problems including shoddy equipment and a lack of officers.
In fact, records from the Fairmount incident refer to a security camera that hadn’t been working.
Danielle Chaffin said, “That was a location that does not have a security officer staffed at it. Cameras not working, or cameras being blurry, I think is a big problem.”
We’ve learned utilities police have a room where you can see several dozen cameras, but often just have one person working there. Some cameras feed back video that doesn’t show much.
Some of you reacted when we reported a security breach that went unnoticed for hours, wondering how that could happen.
Cleveland Water, first, told us that the breach had been, “Discovered shortly after the incident.”
For this story, Cleveland Water released a statement, saying, “Cleveland Water provides customers with a reliable supply of safe drinking water. While the specific details of our security plans are privileged information, we are committed to the highest standards. We take seriously any disturbance to our properties, and at no time was the drinking water compromised. Due to ongoing litigation with this union, we are unable to comment further.”
The union is involved in a legal battle over utilities police carrying guns. The City does not want them to have guns.
Officers say they may need to use force to protect a water plant or power plant. The union says the matter now is going through a grievance procedure.
Meantime, attorney Chaffin points out that her family drinks Cleveland water as so many of you do. So, the union wants to beef up protection.
Chaffin also said the camera reported malfunctioning at the time of the recent security breach was not immediately repaired.
She said, “This is a personal matter to me, and it’s part of the reason why I’m fighting it so hard.”