Early word on Cleveland’s glistening new Horseshoe Casino is over-whelmingly positive, based on an in-depth analysis of giddy morning TV news shows and that tingly feeling city leaders get from seeing white people downtown at night.
But a different version of the casino’s impact is emerging among cops charged with patrolling Dan Gilbert’s new funhouse on Public Square.
Cleveland Police’s entire 40-man Downtown Services Unit — which you used to know as the fellas who kept the populace safe from the Flats to Cleveland State and beyond — is now tending to nickel slot machines around the clock.
“Our sole purpose is to guard the casino,” says one of them. It’s a formula that frees up lots of prime acreage for downtown car thieves and rapists to ply their trade in peace.
During roll call on Monday morning, a call came in for a robbery in progress at a business on East 30th, featuring an assailant valiantly using a victim as a human shield. The nearby Downtown Services Unit could not be bothered — it was busy keeping your Aunt Lucille from cutting in line outside the Horseshoe; instead, cops were called in from 70 blocks away to deal with the crisis, which presumably broke for coffee until authorities could get there.
Meanwhile, the casino is also paying off-duty cops for security work. So if Horseshoe gamblers aren’t coming out ahead so far, at least double-dipping policemen are.
One downtown officer says the extra attention at the Horseshoe isn’t likely to continue forever, though he worries about the circumstances that could change that.
“It’ll take an event like somebody getting mugged two blocks away,” he says. “And then there’ll be a media backlash.”
As for life inside the casino? Another cop on the beat confirms the worst: “You go in late at night and it’s like living in Detroit.” Ouch.