TOLEDO, Ohio — Republican Jan Scotland held his first news conference Thursday since his petitions to run for mayor were certified, and outlined his approach in reducing violence in the city.
Scotland, a former member of Toledo City Council, emphasized creating athletic and job opportunities for young people. His plan includes:
- Full participation of police officers in the community
- Rejecting the "defund the police" movement
- Supporting the police force while weeding out those who "can’t handle today’s issues properly"
- Strengthen laws to dissuade people from obstructing justice or disrespecting officers
- Have police pursue any individual with warrants who are contributing to unrest or violence, and aggressively pursuing people involved with violent crime and work with the court system to keep them off the street
Scotland criticized the Kapszukiewicz Administration's handing of youth programs and city park upkeep.
"We have a pipeline to crime because there's nothing for our youth to do," Scotland said while speaking at Octagon Hall in central Toledo. "We put some spotty athletics out there, we barely get the pools open. As a result of having nothing to do, [kids] choose other things."
Scotland plans to establish the Toledo Joint Recreation District to handle athletic programs for kids and manage the city parks. He envisions this entity functioning separately from the city of Toledo.
He also said he wants to partner with various industries to create job training programs for in-demand careers for young people who are past the age of youth athletics.
Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz and candidate Carty Finkbeiner have also addressed gun violence.
Kapszukiewicz declared gun violence a public health crisis in Toledo in September 2020 and appointed then-Chief of Staff Katy Crosby and Legislative Director Gretchen DeBacker to lead the effort. Crosby left for a job in North Carolina last month.
In February, Kapszukiewicz hired JoJuan Armour as a program manager for his initiative to reduce gun violence.
On Wednesday, the mayor announced Operation Clean Sweep. The program's goal is to remove guns from people who can't legally possess a firearm.
Toledo Police Chief George Kral said a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will be in the detective's bureau this weekend. Any time a TPD crew or officer make an arrest from Friday to Sunday and an illegal gun is found, it will be brought to the ATF agent to be screened.
If certain criteria are met, the suspect will be charged with a federal crime.
Finkbeiner released a 10-step plan earlier this month:
- Enforce Toledo's curfew. The city of Toledo has a curfew unless you're with a parent or guardian. Kids 10 years and under should be home by 10 p.m., ages 11 to 15 by 11 p.m. and 16 and 17-year-olds by midnight.
- Bring Toledo Police Department, Lucas County Sheriff's Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol and federal ATF officials into a partnership for "for as long as it takes to double or triple the number of police cars in Toledo's violent neighborhoods." Finkbeiner said he did this in the past "and it worked," he said, giving the city 90 days of nonviolence during his mayorship.
- Pass anti-gun legislation to ban cheap, "Saturday-night specials" and "multiple firing machine gun" weapons. He said this legislation passed successfully when he was mayor and then councilman and current Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz voted for it.
- Put a gun buyback program in place immediately and dramatically enhance the amount given for the weapons turned in. "We've got plenty of money. Double or triple the amount you're given (for turning in a gun) ... Never has the city had nearly $200 million to get creative with," Finkbeiner said. "Look at the amount of money being spent to repave Summit Street ... we can use the money for this."
- Employ youth in city cleanup and beautification efforts. Finkbeiner said Detroit hired 8,000 youth in a program such as this and it's seeing positive results.
- Double or triple the amount of the reward money for those who provide solid data leading to the arrest of those committing violent crimes. "We've got plenty of money (to do so)," Finkbeiner said. "Money talks at every level - corporate and street - it talks."
- Start a major initiative to bring the Block Watch program back into all neighborhoods. Finkbeiner said the city is down to only about 20 today, whereas there used to be 200 Block Watch programs.
- Consider placing drop boxes in each fire station where people can leave information regarding public safety. "We need more data. ... We need citizens to feel comfortable coming into fire stations," he said.
- Meet with judges and make sure that those repeatedly committing serious crimes are held accountable.
- Have the mayor and city council stand united in Toledo police initiatives that will bring peace and safety to Toledo neighborhoods. "These badges should be worn with pride. ... Let us hand the ball off to a combination of people, but the leaders must be TPD," Finkbeiner said. "They have what's needed to quiet our streets and neighborhoods down, and they can do so respectfully."