LORAIN - A notice to Lorain Police Union members went out this week indicating frustration about the unresolved matter of an aging fleet the union calls a 'dangerous, depleted patrol fleet.'
The letter from the Fraternal Order of Police to its members indicated the situation has now devolved into "anger and resentment," over the lack of progress in fixing the units and getting the fleet up to par.
Union officials say at least two more police cars have gone out of service since last week and they report three went out last month.
Police union officials filed a grievance with the city about old and dilapidated cars in January.
In April, the union once again notified the city that additional cars had been lost adding “many of the cruisers are unsafe and are plagued with maintenance issues…”
In the letter, the union put blame squarely on the city claiming “the city has apparently done nothing to rectify the critical situation, or at least, the FOP has not seen any meaningful results.”
About 65 cruisers, two-thirds of the fleet are 2010 or older with 100 thousand plus miles, according to the union.
"I had a hole in my floorboard covered with a stop sign," Lorain Police Union Vice President, Jesse Perkins previously told WKYC Channel 3.
The issue, the union said, poses a “significant risk to public safety.”
Mary Springowski, a member of Lorain City Council at Large, says the city is taking the matter seriously.
“We had a horrific year,” Springowski told WKYC Channel 3’s Hilary Golston. “We were looking at possibly laying off safety officials.”
Springowski says the city’s financial situation is dire, but steps were taken to stave off cuts, including some elected officials including Springowski giving back some of their salary and benefits. City officials also took voluntary layoffs, but unfortunately that hasn’t been enough. “Everybody coming together and us being very cognizant of the financial situation in the city… we managed to get through last year without laying anybody off.”
However, Springowski says the situation has to be dealt with for the safety of police and citizens. “I am always concerned about the safety of our citizens,” Springowski said. “We also want the police to be safe.”
“They’re breaking down faster than we can find ways to replace them,” Springowski said as she made clear the city will find a solution. “Even if we have to call a special meeting… we have to come together… we have to come to some resolution on this.”
A possible bond issue or grants were even discussed to ameliorate the problem, Springowski said.
The public information officer for Lorain’s Police Department, Captain Roger Watkins said there has been at least one instance of a police unit breaking down on its way to a service call, but he said in so-called “hot-calls” at least two units are sent.
Police officials are unable to comment on open grievances Watkins told Golston, but he acknowledged there are serious budgetary concerns in the city and “administrators are actively working on resolving this issue.”
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