Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs urged East Toledo residents to help fight crime by participating in block watches or neighborhood organizations.
An active block watch, he said, is an effective tool that helps police do their jobs.
“Areas where we have the most crime are areas where we do not have active block watches,” said Diggs.
|Cheif Derrick Diggs
He and Captain Thomas Wiegand, commander of the central district, which includes all of East Toledo, spoke in front of about 40 residents who attended a community meeting at the East Toledo Family Center on Wednesday evening.
The meeting followed the police division’s 10 day sweep of a targeted enforcement area last month in East Toledo bounded by Elgin Avenue, Front, Oak, Nevada and White Streets that resulted in over 200 arrests.
“What we did in East Toledo is part of a community police initiative that we are gearing up for in the summer,” said Diggs. “In the summer, people are more active. Crime starts to increase.”
As part of the targeted enforcement effort, the city also tore down vacant houses, and cleaned up some streets, Diggs added.
“But the final piece of this targeted enforcement area is what we have here right now. We want to try and get the various neighborhoods within this geographic area to organize themselves, whether it’s block watch or neighborhood organizations. We have to have a stronger voice in community engagement. No matter how many police officers I have, unless I get community members to work with the police department, be our eyes and ears, and work with us to let us know what is going on in your neighborhood, we’re never going to be able to bring down crime,” said Diggs.
“What we did during the targeted enforcement is bring as many resources as we could possibly bring into the central East Toledo area,” said Wiegand. “The epicenter was the area around Starr and Main, and Starr and East Broadway, and we radiated out from there. We had a lot of success during that targeted enforcement.”
Eyes and ears
“I cannot continue to keep bringing in these type of resources into one community,” said Diggs. “But if I can get you all to work with us and be our eyes and ears, there will be that many more people who will be watching out to help reduce crime in their community.”
Shirley Green, the public safety director of Toledo, also emphasized the need for neighbors to organize.
“By your attendance, you’re showing a sincere effort in trying to keep your neighborhood safe,” said Green. “I’m here tonight just to ask you to continue to stay involved in block watch, or to become involved in your local block watch group or neighborhood watch group.”
“We already have another neighborhood targeted,” said Diggs. “But we have to maintain the status we have. And to be able to do that, we have to have citizens who organize. We have to have citizens who will work together, be good neighbors, look out for each other, practice some simple crime prevention tips, and be able to work with the police department in our community services section.”
Wiegand, who took over the central district in 2012, credited Chief Diggs for instituting data lead policing.
“In that process, everyone is not only responsible for their area of responsibility, but held accountable for things that are occurring,” said Wiegand.
“There’s an incredible amount of information sharing that was not there in the previous administration,” said Wiegand. “Everyone had their little fiefdom. Now we’re one police department sharing information on a biweekly basis. We’re looking at crime mapping throughout the city. We’re looking at patterns of criminal activity. That is why we’re trying to focus a lot of our resources. We did have a police academy class that just graduated. But I started out in 2013 with less people than I started with in 2012. We’re hoping to solve that problem with a fairly large class towards the end of the year. Once we get that class graduated, we should have a little bit more flexibility in the deployment of some of these resources and we can target enforcement in more than one area at a time. Right now, we targeted East Toledo, but I can’t sustain that effort for an extended period of time because when I get a minimization of crime in one area, I might get a spike in another. And I did see that in another area of my resposibility during the time I spent here.”
During the 10 day sweep, the police “tried to emphasize as much aggressive police enforcement as we possibly could,” said Wiegand.
“I drove through East Toledo. I looked at the targeted area, tried to gather as much information from our criminal intelligence unit as I possibly could, and provided packets to our district sergeants and patrol officers. Our district sergeants lead the effort on each shift, and we engaged in 24-7 targeted enforcement - not just responding to calls and general patrol. In that 10 day period, we made over 200 arrests of individuals. We worked closely with vice narcotics. They executed about eight search warrants in that 10 day period. We also used our crime suppression units. They are city wide. They focused at least a quarter of their patrol in the targeted enforcement area. They are in the area, but not as much as they were in this 10 day period,” said Wiegand.
“So we wanted to follow up this effort with community engagement. We want to emphasize the need for a more robust block watch,” he added.
Block watches are more successful in more affluent neighborhoods, with owner occupied residences and few vacant houses, he said.
“But that’s the nature of urban living. We all have to get passed that and try to emphasize it’s still our neighborhood,” he said.
Another targeted enforcement is planned in East Toledo, he said.
“We’ll be back,” said Wiegand “A lot of what we do now is driven by the information that comes into us.”
Among the complaints in the audience included slow response time of police when called, and the poor attitude of officers responding to calls.
“I expect officers to do their jobs,” said Wiegand. “They have a lot of discretion out there. It’s just the nature of the job. But there’s no excuse for having a poor attitude. We have a great job. We’re compensated fairly well.” He added that he has had few complaints about the disposition of police officers over the years.
Response times, he added, are based on the priority of calls.
“Obviously, priority one is where life safety is at risk, such as a burglary in progress. We don’t have quite as many cops as we used to. I’ll grant you that. Depending on the priority of the call, on a busy Friday or Saturday night, we might not get there for several hours,” he said.
Wiegand urged the public to contact him if they have concerns about crime in their neighborhoods.
He can be contacted at 936-3711, and via e-mail at