We’ve found bikes broken down, along with a big shortage of patrol officers in the Traffic Enforcement Unit.
This exposes yet another reason behind the struggle for city police to keep you safe.
When you see Cleveland police motorcycles rolling, you can’t miss the rumble.
But the I-Team has found more than a quarter of those bikes are out of service for repairs.
We also looked at patrols on those bikes. The motorcycles belong to the Traffic Enforcement Unit. Officer staffing there has dropped to half of what it should be.
The motorcycle unit chases speeders, escorts buses for sports teams and helps control traffic at special events.
The issues in the traffic unit come to light as we’ve shown you a chronic shortage of Cleveland police overall.
In fact, in April, the I-Team revealed it took 33 minutes to get police to a hit-and-run that killed a child. That case sparked outrage about speeders.
“With the Browns season, and when the Guardians were playing, you really see how short we are,” said Cleveland Police Union President Jeff Follmer.
With motorcycles out of service and the traffic unit short, Cleveland police supervisors have to pull officers from neighborhoods, Follmer said.
“They have to pull people from patrol to come downtown,” he added. “Detectives are overwhelmed with their work. They have to leave their desk and go do traffic duty.”
We also took another look at the impact on the streets. Earlier, we checked on traffic tickets issued in Cleveland for the first quarter of the year. We found that number behind pace for each of the last four years. So we checked another 3 months — still no big change in speed enforcement.
Cleveland Councilman Michael Polensek has led a call for more traffic crackdowns.
“In the city of Cleveland, now, anything goes,” he told us. “You can blow through stop signs, blow through red lights.”
Cleveland police issued a statement:
“The Cleveland Division of Police Bureau of Traffic is currently staffed with 40 members, including 4 Supervisory Officers, 19 Patrol Officers, and 17 Traffic Controllers. Officers and Traffic Controllers assigned to the Bureau of Traffic continue to staff events throughout the city, ensuring traffic pattern safety and flow. The Division of Police maintains an adequate fleet of motorcycles for use during the daily duties of the bureau, special events and escorts. Although the Bureau of Traffic is currently budgeted for additional officers, the Division of Police has been impacted by staffing issues across all sections.”Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia
Cleveland police only have a little more than a handful of new recruits in training right now, while the department is short more than 300 officers overall.