TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Toledo Police are beefing up their community service department in an effort to help keep you safe. And their focus is on abandoned houses.
One house on Martha Ave in west Toledo has been abandoned for several years and anything from stolen siding and vandalism to people using the site to sell drugs has occurred there. TPD has added about 10 officers to its community service section to help crackdown on these types of crimes.
Sergeant Joe Hefferman says a tight budget last year forced the department to reduce its community service staff to about 4 or 5 officers and now there is more than a dozen.
Hefferman says these officers attend block watch meetings and other community events, identify the blighted homes, board them if need be and issue warrants to absentee landlords.
"It's been a big push through the mayor's office to emphasize our community services section more," said Hefferman. "We've been able to put a lot more officers in that unit and we're able to address these problems more effectively."
The Lucas County Land Bank is also seeking out help from volunteers to clean up the areas with blighted homes like the one on Martha Ave.
As a part of the Toledo Survey Project, the Land Bank is asking people to help identify the problem areas. Volunteers are given an app to report any blight they see in their neighborhood.
One resident of Martha Ave says she is tired of seeing this empty run-down house every time she drives down her street and says it's been like that for years.
"I was just wondering how we could get rid of this," said west Toledo resident. "I'm tired of looking at it. I want my street to look better than this."
The Lucas County Land Bank says if you want to end blight in your neighborhood reach out to them.
Block Watch Captain Mike Roby says he volunteered for the Toledo Survey Project back in June.
"Encourage everybody to get involved," said Roby.
Roby says volunteers are given an iPad or Tablet including the app to use, which allows them to answer questions and grade each home in their neighborhood from an A to an F.
"It's an easy app to work ," said Roby. "All you do is take a picture of the house and the questions are easy to answer and you can grade it that way. It's a really easy grading system."
Roby says he was given a shirt, walked through the neighborhood and took pictures of homes he believed needed assistance. Roby says four of the homes he took pictures of were added to the Land Bank's demolition list.
For more information on the Toledo Survey Project and how to help fight blight in your area call 419-213-4233 or visit LucasCountyLandBank.org.