TOLEDO, Ohio — The Coalition for Peaceful Toledo Neighborhoods released their 12-point-plan on Saturday afternoon.
The group says they are seeking solutions to the problem of gun violence in the city, especially among the city’s youth population.
The group is made up of four of the city’s former mayors – Donna Owens, Carty Finkbeiner, Mike Bell, and Paula Hicks Hudson – as well as a coalition of community leaders.
The coalition’s 12-point-plan covers a wide range of areas that they would like to see addressed but does not go into specific detail of how the suggestions in the plan should be implemented.
Community and neighborhood building play a large part in the groups efforts.
"We want to build our neighborhood's up. Our neighborhoods are the key to anything that is going to be successful in the city," said Bell. "You cannot have a good quality of life if you don't have a good neighborhood."
The coalition has been stressing increased police presence in communities and fostering an atmosphere of trust between citizens and police. One of the ways they hope to do this is by bringing back Block Watch programs.
Although some of the points pushed for more vigorous law enforcement through the use of cameras in neighborhoods and stricter enforcement of curfews, as well as stronger penalties for offenders, many of the points addressed pre-emptive solutions to mitigate the culture of violence in the city.
The group brought up the need to revitalize and clean up neighborhoods, for instance, and provide support for parents as well as youth programming that builds opportunities for kids.
Paula Hicks-Hudson says she hopes the administration and council takes the coalition’s plan into account as they set the budget for the city.
“Any governmental budget should be allocated to address the needs of the community and the citizens that they govern,” said Hicks-Hudson. “So whether it’s dealing with operational type things or its looking at the things we need to keep the city safe, that’s where our funds should be going.”
Earlier in the week, current Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz and Toledo City Council welcomed representatives from Cities United to discuss a possible partnership with the organization.
On their website, Cities United says they take a “holistic” approach to violence reduction by bringing together community organizations, public safety advocates, and young leaders to create safe, healthy, and hopeful communities.”
The problem of gun violence has had Toledo residents on edge over the past several years as yearly homicide rates began to increase dramatically during the pandemic.
City leaders have been feeling the pressure to get a handle on the problem over that time and have already tried a number of different approaches.
Wade Kapszukiewicz’s Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence was started in early 2021 and employed “violence interrupters” in several Toledo neighborhoods.
Last summer, the city sponsored a large number of specialized summer camps to keep young people busy and out of trouble.
So far in 2023, at least 7 teenagers have been shot in the city.
Here is a complete look at the Coalition for a Peaceful Toledo’s 12-point-plan:
1. Youth programming that provides access to mentorship, job training, and educational opportunities;
2. Neighborhood support and community building resources that foster positive relationships and build stronger, more cohesive communities;
3. Increased police presence and involvement in neighborhoods, focused on community policing efforts that prioritize communication, trust, and respect between law enforcement and residents;
4. Support for parents and parenting classes, including access to resources on conflict resolution and parenting techniques;
5. Revitalization and cleanup of neighborhoods, including investment in infrastructure and beautification efforts that support community engagement and increase access to public spaces;
6. Mental health resources that provide access to counseling, crisis intervention, and other mental health services;
7. Renewal and strengthening of Block Watch programs, including the expansion of programs and resources that facilitate communication and engagement between neighbors and law enforcement;
8. Strengthening of gun laws, including the adoption of local policies and ordinances aimed at preventing gun violence and supporting responsible gun ownership;
9. Safe methods of reporting crime, including the development of anonymous reporting mechanisms and the adoption of policies that protect whistleblowers and other informants;
10. Cameras in the neighborhoods, including the deployment of surveillance technologies that are subject to strict privacy protections and oversight mechanisms;
11. Enforcement of curfews, including the adoption of clear, consistent policies on curfews for minors and the provision of resources and support for parents to ensure compliance.
12. Our judicial, probation and parole system, while following the law, must apply stringent penalties to convicted offenders and limit the ability of repeat violent offenders to walk the streets while awaiting trial.
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