Steve Loomis challenged by old rival in Cleveland police union elections

November 21, 2017 GMT

Steve Loomis challenged by old rival in Cleveland police union elections

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Steve Loomis, the head of Cleveland’s largest police union, faces familiar opposition to his post representing rank-and-file police officers in an election that ends late Monday.

Det. Jeff Folmer is challenging Loomis marking the third time the two men ran against each other for the same position.

The some 1,300 police officers in the union began casting votes on Nov. 5 via a phone bank. Voting ends at midnight and the votes will be tallied on Tuesday.

Loomis was president from 2006 until 2011, when Follmer beat him by 10 votes. Loomis then beat Follmer by about 350 votes for his old job on Nov. 17, 2014, just five days before 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by a police officer.

The controversial shooting that garnered national attention and sparked weeks of protests in Cleveland set the tone for Loomis’ most recent stint as the union’s president.

He defended the officers involved, routinely railing against the city’s settlement with the Rice family, and he also appealed the firing of officer Timothy Loehmann who fired the fatal shot the killed Tamir.

Loomis has made headlines for several controversial issues, including having the union vote, and endorse, Donald Trump for President. It was the first time in the union’s history that it endorsed a presidential candidate, sparking outrage from the Cleveland Police’s Black Shield, a separate union that represents black officers.

He also remains under review by Internal Affairs for wearing his police uniform to a Trump rally in Akron during the presidential campaign. Loomis also makes sporadic appearances on Fox News as a guest panelist on controversial police issues.

Loomis recently waded into the national debate over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality. The Browns had set up a day for police, firefighters and EMS to hold the flag during the national anthem. But Browns players knelt during the anthem during a preseason game.

The union’s pulled out of the pregame ceremony and Loomis criticized the Browns organization for appearing anti-police. City officials later found other police officers who stood arm-and-arm with the players during the national anthem.

Follmer, too, made headlines for criticizing a Browns player when he was the president of the union. He called then-Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins “pathetic” for wearing a “Justice for Tamir Rice” T-shirt during pregame warmups in 2014.

He also criticized the U.S. Justice Department’s 2014 report on the department that found the police used excessive force, among a myriad of other issues. That report resulted in the consent decree that requires certain reforms within the police department.