TOLEDO, Ohio — On Friday, Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz represented Toledo in the nation's capital after being asked by President Joe Biden to share how the city is implementing American Rescue Plan dollars.
The mayor said the White House wants this money spent on public safety. Toledo was recognized for how it's using government funding.
Kapszukiewicz said it's an honor to be invited, but there's still work to do as Toledo lost three lives to gun violence since Friday.
"I had the opportunity to have a pretty extensive back and forth with President Biden and learned a few things," Kapszukiewicz said.
Toledo got $180 million from the American Rescue Plan and according to the mayor, the city will use as much as 33% of that for public safety for things like hiring more police officers and expanding shot-spotter.
While the city's plan gained the White House's attention, the mayor said the violence this weekend is not lost on him.
"I'm aware of the disconnect of me being invited to the White House to celebrate Toledo's strategy of how we're using ARP dollars on public safety and how disconnected that feels from reality when last weekend in Toledo we had two more terrible events," he said.
The mayor acknowledged how hard it is to reduce the violence but said it starts with the people involved.
"What's happening in Toledo this year is 100% of these cases, not most of them, all of them have been retaliation or revenge for some real or perceived misdeed," the mayor said.
Kapszukiewicz said he used the visit as an opportunity to hear from a dozen other mayors and police chiefs about what they're doing to reduce violence and homicides.
"[Detroit] deploys their police officers around trouble establishments on Friday and Saturday nights, in a different way than they would other times during the week. I made a note of that," Kapszukiewicz said.
He also noted the importance between the city and federal prosecutors and is looking to see what kind of role that could have in making the city safer.
"If there's a way we could collaborate with federal officials and maybe charge one of these folks who are causing the violence with a federal crime. That's not only a better deterrent but it also means that person faces a stiffer punishment than he or she otherwise would," he said.
From this meeting at the White House, the mayor said he plans to talk with Chief Kral, city judges and a few other key people who could help with decreasing the city's violence.