Steve Loomis, President of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, called into Mike Trivisonno's show on WTAM yesterday to talk about police layoffs, violence downtown, and, of course, the Plain Dealer's recent coverage of the use of force by officers.
That series of articles by Henry Gomez and Gabriel Baird dug deep into the department and city's handling of the reports of those incidents, discrepancies and changes in those reports, and missing (but recently found!) video of one of those alleged incidents. Those articles led the department, the city, and Bill Mason to launch investigations. Solid journalism, from the initial reviews of public records to the follow-up on what became an Actual Story. (Their series of articles can be found here.)
That is not quite how Steve Loomis — whose job title, admittedly, demands he defend his cops — sees it.
The full audio of the interview is here (scroll through about halfway for the Loomis segment), but here are some notable excerpts that leave Loomis and Triv coming off... how can we say this nicely... poorly.
Triv: Does the Cleveland Plain Dealer hate Cleveland police?
Loomis: Yeah, I have no idea what's going on with this. Gomez and Baird, they need to lose my number, and any other of my guys who gives them information, they need to lose their numbers, too.
Triv: They're just doing a hatchet job on these guys.
Loomis: Because the Plain Dealer is a tabloid rag that's going down the tubes because of the internet, that's the bottom line.
Triv: Do they understand the damage they do [to the public image of the police department]?
Loomis: They don't understand, they don't care about it. They care about keeping their jobs. Instead of reporting fairly and honestly and looking at both sides of the story, they're going totally tabloid on us. People see through that.
More Loomis: The city puts us in the situation where we're asked to do more with less, more with less, more with less, and the PD, of all places, [should understand]. I love when the editors start editorializing from their houses in Pepper Pike on what the average citizen of Cleveland goes through. [Editor's note: You have to give a point there to Loomis.]
Triv: The Plain Dealer's not even in they city. They're at 480 and what... I mean, it's Cleveland, but it's not the inner city of Cleveland.
Loomis: It's tabloid. It's sad. There's no investigative report being done, they just get on Google like anyone else can do. They create controversy where there should be none. [Editor's note: -15,000 points to Loomis on that one.]
PD reporter Henry Gomez took to Twitter to respond briefly to Loomis's claims. "Highlights: Loomis saying that no investigative reporting being done anymore. (What does he call our use-of-force series?)," he wrote. And: "Also, will someone please tell Trivisonno that The Plain Dealer IS in Cleveland — at 18th and Superior."
Sadly, that was the end of the media scrum. Boo.