Safety is top priority in Cleveland during NBA All-Star Weekend, mayor’s office says

CPD to add extra patrols downtown, maintain full police staffing throughout rest of city despite officer shortage.
Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 2:59 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Despite a shortage of officers in Cleveland, the Division of Police will still maintain full police staffing in all neighborhoods outside of downtown throughout this weekend’s NBA All-Star events, the mayor’s office said Thursday.

The police department’s safety plan goes into effect Thursday evening and includes “numerous officers” detailed to the downtown area for extra security.

During a Safety Committee meeting this week, Interim Police Chief Wayne Drummond told members of Cleveland City Council that the city is down hundreds of officers each day.

“We’re approximately 194 officers down from our full staffing,” Drummond told the Safety Committee.

“We average anywhere from 80 to 100 people that’s off daily... sick, vacation, other things that come up,” he said. “That’s separate from the 194 that we’re down, so any given day we’re up to almost 300 officers.”

Police staffing, along with concerns about crime and Covid-19, prompted the city to limit extended-hours liquor waivers during All-Star Weekend.

At total of 87 businesses applied for the waivers, which allow bars and restaurants to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. instead of the regular 2:30 a.m. cut off time, but only seven businesses - all hotels - were approved.

For past major events in Cleveland, like the 2019 Major League Baseball All-Star Week and 2016 Republican National Convention, dozens of businesses were granted extended-hours waivers.

“The decision will allow for optimal public safety throughout the city, while also accommodating the needs of players and visitors to enjoy a meal after the evening’s official NBA events,” the city said in a news release earlier this month.

“I’m extremely disappointed that we could not find a way to allow these bars and restaurants to have extended hours,” Council President Blaine Griffin said in response to the city’s decision. “We have hosted these events before and they’ve turned out flawlessly.”

19 Investigates reviewed police data from MLB All-Star Week and the 2021 NFL Draft, which was also held in Cleveland last spring.

Over 70 businesses were allowed to serve alcohol beyond 2:30 a.m. during All-Star Week, and records from July 2019 show major crime in the downtown area stayed relatively low during the event.

Map showing reported crimes in downtown Cleveland during the MLB All-Star Week in July 2019.
Map showing reported crimes in downtown Cleveland during the MLB All-Star Week in July 2019.(Cleveland Division of Police)

Thousands of people descended on downtown Cleveland daily for the 2021 NFL Draft, which was held from April 29 to May 1.

Police records show no major spikes in crime during or in the days leading up to the draft.

With past major events, we were told extra patrols and assistance from other law enforcement agencies helped to keep crime down.

On Wednesday, we asked the Division of Police how many offices would be working to maintain safety this weekend but we did not receive a response.

Despite the overall staffing shortages, Third District Commander Dorothy Todd said the community can expect to see a lot of officers on duty through Monday morning.

“We have a lot of visitors who are going to be in the area. You’ll see a lot of police presence,” the commander said in a virtual safety meeting Tuesday night.

“We will be out, you’ll see a lot of officers out there. If you’re coming to the downtown area, be patient. Parking is very limited down there. If you have the opportunity to take the RTA, that’s probably your best bet.”

The city shared the following tips for fans:

Arrive early. In order to ensure that you arrive at your destination without missing any of the action, plan your commute beforehand and allow yourself extra travel time. Remember that parking lots and garages may become full with the influx of event attendees and people coming downtown to enjoy dining and entertainment establishments, so be sure to explore options in terms of parking. Please see here for parking restrictions.

Ride RTA. The Greater Regional Transit Authority will be running the All-Star Line Trolley along special routes during All-Star Weekend. View the trolley schedule and more travel information here.

Put your junk in your trunk! Valuable items should not be left in the interior of your vehicle where others can see them. Placing valuables in your trunk and out of sight limit thefts from vehicles.

Be aware of increased pedestrian traffic in the downtown area.

If you see something suspicious, say something. Report suspicious or illegal activity to law enforcement. Call 9-1-1 for emergencies or 216-621-1234 for non-emergencies. Anonymous information can be provided by calling Crimestoppers at 216-25-CRIME.

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