New challenge for protecting fans in Cleveland at NFL Draft: I-Team

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has found the NFL Draft this week in Cleveland comes with two challenges for keepings fans safe.

This time security involves what you always expect around major events, and it involves COVID-19 health orders.

Drive downtown and you see more and more orange barrels showing up along the roads, barricades stacking up, and big signs blocking streets. Countless traditional measures to keep you safe at NFL Draft events.

But, we also investigated what steps are being taken to protect you from COVID-19.

The NFL says, each day, as many as 5,000 fans will end up around the draft stage. Another 50,000 will pass through the fan fest.

At a city hall news conference, the I-Team questioned the mayor and the safety director.

Safety Director Karrie Howard said, “We are still requiring social distancing. Wearing of masks. We will be out with our local and state partners looking for compliance.”

He added, patrols will roam around downtown bars and restaurants making sure the businesses and customers are following health orders.

But, the city says the NFL will enforce COVID rules inside its own events.

Mayor Frank Jackson said, “The Browns have established what the rules are according to the guidelines set by the state.”

We spoke to Antwane Brooks, a lucky local fan with tickets to the draft. He considers it a once-in-a-lifetime chance, so he’s given some thought to COVID-19. But, only some.

Brooks said, “I’ve been as safe as one can be during this pandemic. But, I think everyone is itching to get out and start living life a little.”

As for concerns about crime, Cleveland police, of course are promising to have plenty of officers of all sorts keeping watch over fans.

Deputy Police Chief Wayne Drummond said, “We’ve been planning for this for over a year.”

And remember, the I-Team warned you earlier about possible shady deals for tickets. The NFL says you can’t sell or transfer tickets.

But, a quick check on-line shows someone selling tickets for $400. Someone else looking for a best offer. And more.

Expect investigators to be on the lookout for that too.

Meantime, the Ohio State Highway Patrol says agents with the Ohio Investigative Unit will also be on the streets of Cleveland draft weekend.

Lt. Craig Cvetan wrote in an e-mail, “OIU personnel will be working with the Cleveland Division of Police for alcohol related violations, compliance with the Ohio Department of Health orders, as well as other criminal activity. Agents will be out to ensure permit holders put safety first by not serving intoxicated individuals and discouraging excessive consumption of alcohol.”

Through it all, fans are ready to show up and have fun without having to think about anything else.

One man outside the event area said, “Security looks good. Everything is set.”

And, a woman told us, “I’ve had my vaccine. Hoping others have had theirs. And, I’ll have my mask.”

So many security measures you should never notice once the show starts.

Cleveland police also are promising patrols in neighborhoods will be fully staffed throughout the draft weekend despite the need for extra officers downtown.

Police say all officers will be working regular shifts unless they’re already on vacation or off on some kind of leave.

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