CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has found Cleveland police just spent your tax money on big SUVs, but we also found police not explaining how they’ll be used.
So, we went to the chief.
Records show the Cleveland Police Department bought three Ford Expeditions. 7-seat SUV’s with a total cost to taxpayers of $169,000. They’ve also been outfitted with police lights.
We’d been asking about them for months since the city placed the order.
But, we either didn’t get an answer to the question of where the SUVs would be assigned, or we were told no decision had been made. So, we asked Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond to explain to taxpayers how those vehicles would be used.
The Chief responded, “I’ll make the decision how those vehicles are gonna be used. That’s pretty much the answer, Ed.”
That led us to follow up with, “If you’re still deciding how they’re going to be used, was there no decision on how they would be used before you bought them?”
“I’m not gonna tell you exactly what they’re gonna be used for,” the chief said. “They’re gonna be used for special things, special details and things of that nature.”
Records show the city ordered those SUV’s way back in February. Took until now for the vehicles to come in and be delivered. We also found others wondering about the same questions we’re asking.
Teamsters Local 507 leader Carl Pecorara asked, “What are we spending our resources on?”
The union has threatened a strike by city snow plow drivers in a contract dispute.
“What you’re seeing is we’re gonna spend money where we want to spend it, versus spending it on the things that are essential to what affects most of the residents,” Pecorara added.
We also went City Council Public Safety Chairman Mike Polensek.
“That’s up to Chief Drummond to decide where those vehicles are assigned,” he said. “I would like to think that every vehicle that they buy, that there’s a purpose for it.”
Chief Drummond made it very clear he’ll make the call on the use of the new SUVs, saying,
“So, the buck stops with me with those vehicles. Stops with me.”
But, we did not get a clear answer when we asked if he’s driving one. He reacted to that question: “If I make the decision to drive the vehicle, I’m gonna drive it because they’re gonna be utilized. They’re not gonna sit.”
We plan to keep an eye on what happens with those SUVs. Not to expose any sensitive police operations. But, to get some direct answers to basic questions involving your money.