Central Toledo neighbors, community leaders and police work to cut down violence

Central Toledo neighbors, community leaders and police work to cut down violence

TOLEDO (WTOL) - Neighbors are getting serious about bringing an end to the violence in their Central Toledo neighborhood.

"If I wasn't saved, sanctified, filled with the holy ghost ain't no way in the world I could live where I live," said Erma Blakely, a neighbor.

Crime statistics show the area of Fernwood/Brown/Campbell/ and I-75 in Central Toledo needs special attention to help bring an end to the violence.

Together, neighbors are working with police and community partners to ensure something is done. They held their first joint meeting Wednesday at the Frederick Douglass Community Center.

Police explained their neighborhood accounts for 7.1% of the city's homicides which is a 2.5 times higher rate than the rest of the city, 14.1% of the city’s nonfatal shooting incidents accounting for 5.4 times higher rate than the rest of the city and 9.7% of the city’s calls for shots fired which is 3.5 times higher rate.

Toledo Police said they need the community’s help to bring an end to the violence.

Neighbors admit the stats don’t shock them. It’s a daily struggle.

“This is the danger zone, like this is ground zero,” said Kenneth Johnson, a neighbor during Wednesday’s meeting."You can't keep taking services away from this community,' said another neighbor.

"I screamed real loud I said could you come here please somebody just shot into our house,” retold Erma Blakely, a Central Toledo resident of an experience in her neighborhood. “If you come and look in the front of our house you would see gunshots, you would see bullet holes."

Residents say it’s not safe and they want to work with police and community partners like the Junction Coalition, Buffalo Soldiers and more to make something happen and stop the violence.

Wednesday night they gave a few ideas they believe could make a difference.

“Majority of this community believes the police are the enemy,” said Kenneth Johnson, a neighbor. “So it’s going to be hard for the community to work with the police and try to make things better and it definitely needs to happen.”

"I think the focus of the problem should be there should be a substation right here in this city and out of that substation you can build a rapport," said Major Smith, from Central Toledo.

"Once we get those kids interest through social media we will find younger people joining the police department and it will become a lot easier," suggested Joseph Smith, a neighbor hoping police will meet teens where they are.

"The officer came and instead of jumping to conclusions, the officer asked can we help you,” recalled Victor Perry, a neighbor wanting simple interaction with police. “And that made a real big difference."

TPD said they have a three-step approach to curbing some of the violence through a national program called Public Safety Partnerships.

They spent nearly a year researching the city’s crime and now will focus on Central Toledo. The first step is to focus on repetitive problem areas in the neighborhood, address chronic offenders and have community partners that come alongside them.

“We can’t do it alone,” said Lt. Jessica Meyer, Toledo Police Department. “We’re asking for people to contact us if they see a crime, know of a crime or have any information.”

While the partners at Wednesday’s meeting wanted solutions, they know nothing can be solved overnight.

For Junction Coalition leaders they said this meeting is just the beginning, they will see this through and fight for their neighborhood.

“We pretty much pick up the ball and run with it,” said Kenneth Boles, Safety Committee Chair with the Junction Coalition. “We’ve never stopped. We’ll knock on doors, we’ll canvas, we’ll do whatever it takes for our community.”

Police said while this partnership is new it doesn’t necessarily mean more police on the streets, but rather more creative teamwork. Neighbors said they are hopeful real change is coming.

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