On notice: Police cracking down on muni lot tailgaters after violations

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CLEVELAND, Ohio –- Before the Cleveland Browns‘ home opener, fans tailgating in the city’s muni lot were put on notice that police would be enforcing its rules there.

The rules include no open-pit fires, no charcoal grills, no alcohol and the proper disposal of all trash.

Signs posted throughout the muni lot warn the rules are by “police order” and will be “strictly enforced.”

Many of the tailgaters openly disregarded at least some of those rules.

Although police were on hand, the city reported only one arrest was made for disorderly conduct.

Since Sunday, however, word has filtered to tailgaters that the city has had enough of the violations, and before future home games there would be a greater police presence and a more aggressive enforcement of the rules.

That word triggered multiple calls to city hall, where Ward 3 Councilman Joe Cimperman, a member of the council’s safety committee, says even he was not aware of any such plans and was directing questions to the police department.

“City Council doesn’t issue tickets. We had no committee knowledge of this,” said Cimperman on Thursday.

“I am on the safety committee,” said Cimperman. “This is where it would have come up — it just seems to me this is something that is coming out of the blue, and there’s more questions that are asked than answered.”

Cimperman believes the city has more important needs than to crack down on tailgaters.

“We have a lot of other issues in the city of Cleveland that I think and a lot of police officers and other councilmen think need more attention. You know, police officers are not meant to be babysitters; they are meant to be out there catching bad guys,” said Cimperman.

Fox 8 News went to police administration to find out what, if anything, is being planned with respect to muni lot enforcement and was referred to the mayor’s office.

The city on Thursday was tweeting the message that there was no plan to change anything regarding the muni lot rules, referring followers to a web page publicizing the rules.

It does not directly address the aggressiveness to which the city will conduct enforcement.

City spokesperson Maureen Harper told Fox 8 on Thursday that rumors about enhanced enforcement are greatly exaggerated, and nothing will change.

“No difference in the rules. No difference in the enforcement,” said Harper. “Open containers have been prohibited since the mid 90s here in Cleveland, and the police regularly patrol the parking lot during tailgating and advise people not to break the law.”

Police will still have a presence in the lot before games and can, as signs there say, write citations, make arrests or even evict people from the lot.

And while the city denies a more aggressive enforcement effort, Harper is not encouraging people to violate the rules.

“Cleveland police officers are out there every week,” said Harper. “They have been for several seasons, and they do advise people — they do approach people and let them know that open containers are prohibited, public drunkenness is prohibited. We have several other rules regarding open fires and we encourage people to follow the law.”

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