Spat between Lorain police and city government leaves officers covered in bird doo

LORAIN, Ohio - In Lorain, the long arm of the law now reaches into bird nests. The police union in Lorain filed a grievance against the city on May 24 after two officers were defecated upon by cliff swallows outside the department's employee entrance.

According to the grievance, several bird nests above the entrance have caused unsanitary conditions to those entering the precinct. 

"The unsanitary conditions have been the subject of numerous complaints from employees and the matter has already been reported to the city," the grievance said. 

The police union has requested a canopy be set up outside the employee entrance to shield the officers from the unwanted projectiles. The document also said the birds are bombing the police cruisers and covering them with filth. 

According to documents obtained by News 5, it appears the police union was under the impression that netting was supposed to have been installed last year after the birds were done nesting in the area to prevent further occurrences. The netting was never installed.

When an officer asked about the netting and the city having "dropped the ball," they were told the fire department would come out and use hoses to clear the bird nests off the building. That plan was later rescinded when it was made known that doing so would violate a federal law. According to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the law prohibits the bird nests and the birds themselves from being disturbed.

The grievance was filed the same day a police sergeant was told through email by Lorain Public Safety and Service Director Daniel Given that he was "highly irritated" at the comments in an email chain about the removal of the bird nests. 

In the letter to the sergeant, Given wrote, "this should not be the most pressing issue of the day for any of us. I think we should be MORE focused on crime, safety, budgets, gangs, gunfire, etc etc."

Given said in his email that the city, "never promised nor even addressed a nesting of bird (sic) issue at city hall and LPD." He went on to say "it sounds like there may not be an adequate amount of work for some people to perform daily if this is so menacing an issue."

According to the grievance:

"Section 8.1: It is agreed that health and safety must be a concern of both parties. Therefore, the Employer reams its responsibility to provide Rife working conditions, tools, equipment (i.e. body armor), vehicles, facilities, and working methods for its employees. The supervisor will correct unsafe working conditions and see that the safety rules and safe working methods are followed by his/her employees. Employees shall accept the responsibility to operate equipment safely and to follow all safety rules, safe working methods, and precautions as established by the Employer. All unsafe conditions should be reported to the next higher authority in charge as soon as they are known."  

The grievance claims Lorain, "breached all applicable provisions of the CBA and is failing to correct unsanitary working conditions." Conditions that aside from unsanitary, one officer described as "very unwelcoming for any other agency that uses this entrance and embarrassing."

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