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Gun violence declared a public health crisis in Toledo

The designation will allow the city to receive more grants and funding to help combat the mental and environmental issues that lead to people pulling the trigger.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Gun violence is a public health crisis in Toledo, city council declared in a unanimous vote Tuesday.

The designation will allow the city of Toledo to receive more grants and state and federal funding to help combat the mental and environmental issues that lead to people pulling the trigger.

This isn't the first time council has filed for the designation either. They also applied for the public health crisis designation in 2020.

There have been 62 homicides in Toledo this year, placing it next to 2020 as the second highest in city history. There were 70 homicides in Toledo in 2021.

The unfortunate designation is the latest effort from council to push back against the streak of violence in the city. While it may mark 2022 as another year of violent crime plaguing the city, it also opens the door for city officials to hone in on solutions.

"This initiative allows us to move forward on some grant opportunities, potentially some other funding opportunities, really ensuring that the city's focus is on these initiatives," council member Nick Komives said.

At the same meeting, council tabled plans to expand the city's block watch program, a plan multiple former mayors and others involved in the Coalition for Peaceful Toledo Neighborhoods have been pushing for to help stop crime at the community level.

Council members Theresa Morris and George Sarantou on Nov. 16 first introduced to council their resolution to establish more a closer working relationship between the city and block watches -- a term that some city leaders say should be called neighborhood groups instead.

The resolution faced pushback from other council members who said the concept of what a Toledo block watch is needs to be revised and that council efforts to reduce violence need to focus on programs the city has already invested money in, such as the violence interrupter program.

Also at the meeting, Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said there were about 2000 survey responses from the public on what the Toledo Police Department's next chief of police needs.

Kpaszukiewicz laid out his hopeful timeline for when a new police chief will take office:

  • conduct interviews in mid-January
  • select a new police chief by end of January
  • new police chief takes office by March 1, 2023.

Current TPD chief George Kral's last day in office will be Jan. 10, 2023.

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