Skip to main content

Cleveland businesses want more law enforcement on the Cuyahoga

Many outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the Cuyahoga River, which can be challenging for law enforcement. Photo courtesy Jordan Kit

Many outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the Cuyahoga River, which can be challenging for law enforcement. Photo courtesy Jordan Kit

Business organizations in Cleveland want the city, the Coast Guard and the state department of natural resources to increase the law-enforcement presence on the Cuyahoga River.

The Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, Lake Carriers Association, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Jacobs Entertainment Group, Greater Cleveland Boating Association and U.S. Power Squadrons signed a letter sent earlier this week to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.

“We understand and appreciate these competing demands for limited law enforcement resources; however we firmly believe this matter needs to be a priority,” the letter said. “We respectfully request your assistance in increasing waterborne and shoreside law enforcement activity on and along the Cuyahoga River. Not only is there a safety component to ensuring citizens enjoy responsibly, there is also a security concern with large crowds confined to the narrow river and waterfront area.”

Among the main concerns is the safety of those in small vessels, including rowing shells, paddleboards, kayaks and personal watercraft, on busy summer weekends when there are also boats and freighters on the river.

The Cuyahoga River Safety Task Force has been meeting for years at area Coast Guard offices, working on safety pamphlets and informational signage, and providing paddling ambassadors and dock workers on the Flats East Bank.

Representatives from the Coast Guard, Cleveland Metroparks and Ohio DNR say the resources are stretched thin from having to patrol Lake Erie as well as the river.

This past Labor Day, law enforcement had to deal with a PWC crash, a 30-foot boat that had overturned over and two fatalities on the river.

“We need someone who’s a referee, to help direct people one way or another,” said Ken Alvey, former LEMTA president, during a task force meeting this week.

The nonprofit Phastar Corp. has patrolled the river using a former Coast Guard vessel for two years, with paramedics on board. The boat escorts freighters, warns boaters to steer clear and rescued more than a dozen paddlers last year.

But Phastar can’t hand out tickets for violations. “A blue light does the most communication of anything that can be done,” Alvey said.

Phastar founder Drew Ferguson said he supported more help from law enforcement, but he’s also realistic. “In a city where they can’t even fill their homicide unit, we’re asking them to put dudes in boats,” he said. “There’s ways we can do this that don’t depend on county government or city government or fed government.”



2022 Women in the Industry Summit, Leadership Panel, Awards Ceremony & Reception



Seabins Coming to Lake Erie

The devices, deployed as part of a pilot program, skim and collect debris from the water, including microplastics. Meanwhile, MBIA announces scholarship funds.


Boatsetter Reports Uptick in Rentals

The on-water experience company has seen triple-digit growth in pontoon and party-boat rentals, as well as fishing and yacht charters.


Smartgyro Signs Distributors, Hires Sales Manager

The company said the three U.S. distributors, working with Bob Walker, will help expand its dealer network and brand recognition.


The Upside of a Downturn

Economic challenges should push you to develop a strategy that helps you weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side.


Marine Travelift Launches Co-op Program

The company received its first student, a University of Wisconsin engineering major, in the seven-month paid co-op.


Trade Only Today Returns Tuesday

The e-newsletter will not publish July 4 in observance of Independence Day. We wish everyone a safe holiday weekend.


ORR Announces Federally Funded Projects

The U.S. Economic Development Administration prioritized outdoor recreation for the first time