A survey of residents in East Toledo’s Birmingham neighborhood revealed that 32 percent of residents have experienced vandalism in a six-month period.
Twenty-eight percent experienced vandalism or theft inside their home, and 50 percent know of a neighbor who was a victim.
Tuesday night, Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs had the opportunity to address those issues to 30 residents during the Birmingham Development Corporation’s monthly meeting at the Birmingham Branch Library.
At right Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs responds to questions from audience members including John Halasz, top left and Father Frank Eckart, bottom left. (Press photo by Ken Grosjean
Chief Diggs says that there has been an increase in crime across the city, due in large part to economic conditions and not having enough police officers or jail space.
“We arrest these burglars, and then they are in jail for a limited amount of time and then they are back out on the street,” Chief Diggs said.
Diggs said because of a lack of officers, the focus has been more on crimes on people than on property. Diggs said in certain neighborhoods, police officers are “running from gun call to gun call, homicide to homicide all night” during the weekend.
He said Toledo has 545 police officers for 307,000 people, compared to Cincinnati — which has 1,100 police officers for just 20,000 more people, and he added that Cincinnati still has a higher homicide rate than Toledo. Diggs said his department typically likes to have three to four police units in East Toledo at all times, including a wagon.
Chief Diggs also spoke to residents who say they witnessed drug deals in the streets.
“Property crimes, I know to you, are important. I’ve got homicides I can’t solve because people there won’t tell me what’s going on in the neighborhoods,” Chief Diggs said. “We have drug dealings everywhere. I didn’t know it was a particular concern over here. If you see it happening, you’ve got to report it.
“I’ve got a manpower problem and I’ve got to utilize the manpower the best I can,” Diggs continued.
“Don’t wait until the next community meeting to talk to the police officers about what is going in your neighborhood. Tell them about it now.”
Diggs insisted that residents should call 911 with the make of automobile and license number if possible when they see a potential crime in process. Residents, however, complained that license plates are often covered up.
Crime Stopper, a non-profit corporation established October 5, 1981, can be reached at 419-255-1111. To anonymously provide information about activity, residents can visit the Toledo Police Tipster link located on the Toledo police website, www.toledopolice.com.
Diggs announced several new tools he hopes will help fight crime, including a crime data analyzing system and a proposal in council’s hands to place security cameras around the city, including hidden and covert cameras to help with investigations.
A proposed data driven police model involves a process for systematically collecting and analyzing data to strategically direct manpower to suppress crime in identified problem areas, says a press release. The initiative also involves the utilization of the CompStat model to track progress and ensure accountability. Additionally, it will include a Real Time Crime Center that will utilize cameras as a deterrent and investigative tool for the apprehension of suspects involved in criminal behavior.
Diggs said the proposal includes two mobile cameras, all of which he would like to have installed and running by this summer. He said the location of cameras will depend on priorities determined by data where the most serious crimes are occurring.
“The whole idea is, with the limited numbers of officers I have, to drop crime,” Diggs said. “There is so much we can do with those cameras. We are going to get the technology that we can feed the cameras into the police cars. The camera thing is real big.
“Another thing they will do if we get the system I want — the technology is there that we can put you on our system, and we can monitor a private business. The variables are unlimited. The camera thing is really high tech and futuristic. I have several businesses that are waiting for us to get up and running so they can get their cameras going to feed into our system.”
Chief Diggs also hopes to establish a cyber-block watch program on the web or Facebook.
Tuesday’s meeting was scheduled with Chief Diggs and other East Toledo leaders to help “beef up” the local block watch program. Among guests were Garfield Block Watch 410G (formerly 421B) leader Andrea Martin, District 3 councilman Mike Craig, and Lucas County Administrator Peter J. Ujvagi, an East Toledo native.
Another meeting will be held Monday, February 6 at 6 p.m. at the Birmingham Library with the goal of organizing a block watch group for the Birmingham neighborhood.
Chief Diggs said his first beat after graduating from the police academy was on a police wagon in East Toledo. He has been with the department 35 years and was appointed chief on October 21, 2011.
“It (East Toledo) was a hard beat to get to know,” Chief Diggs said. “My partner told me if you get to know East Toledo, you can get to know any part of the city.”
Diggs said he was unaware of the crime data reported from the NHS survey of 200 Birmingham residents until the meeting. Neighborhood Housing Services/NeighborWorks (NHS) conducted the survey to establish a baseline to evaluate its upcoming work in Birmingham.
Bob Krompak, economic development specialist with NHS, said the survey, conducted earlier this year, has already provided NHS and the Birmingham Development Corporation with direction. Krompak said a similar survey is scheduled next year for the Garfield neighborhood.
NHS secured $220,000 of government money to provide loans to residents who want to upgrade their homes. The loans are based on income eligibility. Krompak said a large percentage of those who would qualify are “single senior citizen women who are home rich and cash poor.”