CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Is the city of Cleveland putting officers and the public in danger because of its practice to not replace tires on police cruisers?
Pictures can tell a vivid story of Cleveland Police cars with bald tires. Tires that would earn you a ticket if you would be pulled over driving them.
"That's appalling. It's embarrassing is what it is," said police union president Steve Loomis.
Loomis says the problem has been going on for a long time, but is now reaching critical mass because of the Crown Victoria, an older model police car that is no longer made. Half of the Cleveland fleet are Crown Victorias -- the city's decision.
"The city doesn't have tires for the Crown Victorias. The tires we do have are full of plugs in them," said Loomis.
The city will only replace or plug a flat tire. If it's bald, officers are told to keep driving.
By comparison, the Ohio State Highway Patrol allows only one plug in a tire. After that, the tire is scrapped, due to the demands emergency driving can place on a tire.
At the East 55th Street city garage, police cars come to be repaired or junked. You'd think that tires could be taken off a car that obviously is beyond repair and put into service on a working police car. We found all kinds of tires there that could be used, many of them with far more tread than those we found parked at police districts.
There, we found cars that are used on wet, leaf-covered streets this time of year, and soon in snow. For example, we measured one tire's tread and it appeared to be less than 1/16" deep. It wasn't alone.
"You're asking us to go out and write tickets to people that have tires like that. We have police cars that go out with one headlight," said Loomis.
A citizen can get a ticket for that, too.