Suburbs paid thousands for Brelo trial protests

Posted at 5:50 AM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 09:55:40-05

After assisting in police patrols following Michael Brelo's trial, the overtime budgets of several smaller police departments on Cleveland’s west side took a “significant hit.”

The City of Cleveland paid $1.8 million in overtime for the four-week period before and after the May 2015 acquittal of Cleveland Police Patrolman Michael Brelo in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects. 

The pay out was twice the city’s budget.   

Fairview Park Police Chief Erich Upperman said even out in the suburbs, his department felt the impact. 

“Between the training, back filling officers that had to leave to go to the crowd control, call outs and SWAL calls outs,” Upperman said. “It was a lot for a small department.” 

Upperman estimated that officers racked up close to $8,300 in overtime for three protest-related calls for assistance in May. 

Taking into account the city’s pension rate, that translates into nearly $10,000 in pensions funded by taxpayers. 

“I originally had budgeted for $85,000 and I had to ask for an additional $15,000,” said Upperman, who noted that other personnel issues contributed to the total overtime bill.  

And Fairview Park is not alone. The Bay Village Police Department said the protests contributed to 3 percent of the its entire overtime budget, which totaled nearly $5,000 in pension dollars in 2015. 

In 2016 the Rocky River Police Department asked for a 65 percent increase to its overtime budget, from $157,900 to $261,700.

Rocky River Chief Stillman told city council members that the part of that request was due to “extra manpower” for the Michael Brelo verdict  

“None of this was refunded,” Stallman told the council. 

Rocky River, Bay Village and Fairview Park are all part of the Westshore Enforcement Bureau. The remaining members — Lakewood, Westlake and North Olmsted — told that their departments are large enough that the overtime did not make a huge dent.