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Akron police officer shows off artistic side

Colorful murals help with stress relief
Posted at 10:45 PM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 00:19:55-04

AKRON, Ohio — In more than 20 years on the Akron police force, Officer Shea Flaherty has seen the good and bad in people.

"You get a real look at how the world is and how people are," Flaherty said. "There is a lot of violence, a lot of shootings, a lot of fighting."

While helping people and making arrests are part of the job, it's what the veteran cop does outside of the street beat and his school resource officer position that enables people to see him in a whole new light.

Over the past six years, Flaherty has painted about 10 murals, or street art, inside and outside of Akron buildings.

He typically spray paints 85% of his projects and uses paint rollers and brushes for the remaining 15%.

Two of his more prominent pieces are on Akronborne, a window tinting business in the Firestone Park neighborhood.

The iconic "Firestone" sign is painted on one side of the building and it's also filled with religious tones.

"It's eye-catching. It's vibrant," Flaherty said.

On another side, you'll find a large and unique red, white and blue American flag that creates an illusion.

"The further you get back, the more you see that gives the impression of waving in the wind," the officer said.

Jake Manes, the owner of Airborne, said the murals bring more attention to his shop and spark conversation.

"It looks fresh and clean. His skill just brought it back to life. It was dull and dingy and peeling," Manes said.

Some of Flaherty's other murals include a Rat Fink theme on Eastwood Auto Salvage, a tribute to the Stephen King Move "Christine" on Kenmore Automotive, and a combination underwater wildlife/basketball theme on the outdoor court at Kenmore Garfield High School.

"It's fulfilling when I'm done and I'm happy with the pieces," he said. "When people come by and say, 'Who painted that?' They say, 'A police officer from Akron.' And people, a lot of time, that takes them by surprise."

Flaherty said creating works of art helps him decompress from some of the tough stuff he sees on the job.

"It kind of gives me that stress relief and I enjoy it."

The officer also hopes the street art shows off his pride in Akron.

"Art is one thing that you can get enjoyment from for many years," he said.

Flaherty donates a portion of his profits from his murals to The Humane Society and the World Wildlife Fund.

His plan is to keep creating long after he turns in his badge.

"That's my goal, to go into business when I'm doing with the police work."