TOLEDO, Ohio — The Toledo Police Department has started its next targeted neighborhood program: Operation BLASER, a team effort between local, state, and federal agencies.
BLASER's goal is to cut down on crime and clean up the streets, focusing on the Bancroft, Monroe, Upton and Auburn areas of west Toledo.
The operation is the TPD's fifth community initiative of the year, and the first to exclusively focus on those neighborhoods.
BLASER is a two-part mission. The first part is a heavy increase in police activity on the streets.
"You're going to see a lot more increased patrols, you're going to see a lot more community engagement, you're going to see a lot more officers on foot, you're going to see a lot more officers approaching businesses," TPD Sgt. Adam Fish said.
The second part is long-term improvement of the neighborhoods themselves.
"We want to make sure if there's any blight, abandoned vehicles, trashed houses, abandoned houses that might be a problem, or obstructed streets or cars, that we're taking care of those problems with the community and the city," Fish said.
Lula Brown has lived off of Upton Avenue since 1969 and said the time for TPD's intervention in west Toledo is now. She said she can recall a time when the area around Upton was clean and quiet, but that those days are long gone.
"This is the worst that I've seen it since I've been here," Brown said. "I've known a few people that have gotten shot up in that area and ... I don't leave my house when it gets dark."
Brown said two abandoned houses on the street have been cleaned up since Operation BLASER began, and she hopes increased patrols mean she can hear fewer gunshots at night. It gives her hope that the neighborhood might start to return to the peace she remembers.
Toledo police said Operation BLASER currently has no end date.
While they will eventually scale back the number of patrols, TPD said they will continue checking on the area afterward. And if they or the community feels they need to do another operation, they will return to the area.