Toledo Mayor tells residents police can't protect them

By Chad D. Baus

When word of significant cuts to the Toledo police force first came out, one senior police officer issued the following recommendation to city residents:

"Buy guns. Invest in precious metals: lead, gun power and brass."

And now, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner is admitting the reason why this is such good advice:

"Violent crimes, shootings, are not ever prevented by the presence of a police officer, no matter how many thousands of police officers you have."

Saturday, May 2 marked the first full day since 75 Toledo police officers turned in their badges and guns, and according to the Toledo Blade, word of the significant cuts in the Toledo police force is on the street.

"There ain't a side of Toledo you can go where they do not know the police is going to be laid off," one resident is quoted as saying.

From the story:

"The crime rate is going to go up," predicted Jeff DeVaul, 46, who described his home as straddling a buffer between West Toledo's tranquil Ottawa Park and a more rough-and-tumble neighborhood. "I'm very concerned about 75 police officers being laid off."

..."Now there ain't going to be no constraints for the gangs," said Asian Andrews, 49, of North Toledo, who said it's already dangerous enough leaving one's house in his neighborhood at night. "The gangs will be recruiting, and it's going to be up to the parents now to know where their children is at all times."

...Police Chief Mike Navarre said 66 of the 75 layoffs involved field operations officers and will affect the department's ability to investigate crimes and follow up on complaints. This means fewer detectives and vice squad members and no mounted patrol.

However, the reduction in the number of layoffs from 150 to 75 eliminated an earlier, more fearful scenario of fewer officers patrolling city streets. Toledo will be able to keep its SWAT team and gang task force.

"My number of street officers will be at or near what it was prior to these layoffs," Chief Navarre said. But those words of assurance are not fully reassuring to all.

For Janet Allen, shopkeeper at Community Variety Store on Ashland Avenue near downtown, fewer police are fewer police.

"I think we're going to have more break-ins," Ms. Allen said.

Donald Dukett, 21, of North Toledo told the Blade his concern was about numbers, noting that even before the layoffs, Toledo had fewer officers per capita than other large Ohio cities: "We're already short enough as it is."

According to the story, before the pink slips, Toledo's force of 616 officers equated to 2.1 officers per 1,000 residents. Now, there are fewer than two officers per 1,000 residents, and fewer than Akron (2.2), Youngstown (2.5), Columbus (2.5), Dayton (2.6), Cincinnati (3.4), and Cleveland (3.7). In Detroit, there are 3.3 officers per 1,000.

What's more, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner - who lowered the number of police layoffs from 150 - says it will be up to Toledo City Council to act swiftly and prevent another 75 officers, or more, from being laid off.

"The mayor has failed at the bargaining table, refused to meet with City Council, and until recently even opposed my plan to create a $3.9 million reserve fund to stop police layoffs," Councilman Joe McNamara told the Blade. "At a time of crisis when Toledo needs a Winston Churchill, we are instead stuck with Carty Finkbeiner."

Many appear to finally be coming to the understanding that the only person who can be counted on to protect you is you.

In recent weeks, more Toledo residents have signed up for gun classes at Cleland's Outdoor World in Monclova Township, specifically mentioning the prospect of police layoffs, said Theresa Cleland, who co-owns the business with her husband.

And in a separate story in the same paper, news of a fatal drug-related shooting that came on the eve of the layoffs brought talk of a neighborhood security program.

"People are starting to get shot. And it's only going to get worse," said Robert Mailaw, 22, a Toledo chimney cleaner who was staying at his parents' house near the scene of the shooting the night it happened.

"Neighbors were talking about [starting] a Block Watch," he said. "But I think that [Mayor Carty] Finkbeiner should not be laying off any of the police that he wants to lay off."

...Harry Hersey, Jr., 27, also a neighbor, said he heard about the shooting from other neighbors Friday morning and that he was concerned, especially in view of the approaching police layoffs.

"I think there should be more police patrols around here," Mr. Hersey said. "[Barring that], I would want a Block Watch to be set up here. I would join it to make the neighborhood safe."

When another shooting occurred in the days after the layoffs, Finkbeiner blamed the media for scaring residents and said it was "absolutely ludicrous" to suggest Sunday's murder of a South Toledo man could have been prevented if 75 police officers had not been laid off on Friday.

According to the Blade, Richard Soria, of 659 Congress St., suffered multiple gunshot wounds about 12:12 p.m., shortly after returning from church. He was found on the walkway leading to the front porch of his one-story house.

[UPDATE: Layoffs let suspects walk free; judges dismissing cases involving 75 officers]

"Violent crimes, shootings, are not ever prevented by the presence of a police officer, no matter how many thousands of police officers you have," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

That residents can only count on themselves for protection is certainly true, and I'm glad Mayor Finkbeiner has finally admitted it. But with church-goers like Soria being rendered defenseless under a state law that declares places of worship to be "no guns" zones, and with criminals excited about the loss of 1/6 of the city's police force, much more can and should be done on the part of government officials to clear the way so that citizens to take steps to protect themselves.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

Additional Information:
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Carrying signs that read "Make safety a priority" and "Cuff criminals, not cops," off-duty Findlay police officers Monday demonstrated their concern for the impending layoff of 13 members of the department.

"I think the call volume this summer is going to explode, and [the criminals] are going to know we're short-handed," Officer David Hill said.

Police Cuts Cause Concern For Mansfield Residents

[Rilda] Burchfield said that if the city can't protect her, she is prepared to do it alone.

"I have always advocated not having a gun in my house," Burchfield said. "But within the next two weeks I'm going to take a gun safety course and I'm going to pack and carry."

Armed Robberies Rampant In Marengo

A small Central Ohio town has had some big crime problems due to decreased police protection.

...Over the past few weeks, residents in the town of Marengo have had a one-in-100 chance of being robbed at gunpoint...

Police layoffs drive gun sales surge

Before 75 Toledo police officers were cut May 1, Joe Conley, the co-owner of JJ's Guns and Things in Walbridge, said many Toledoans were already concerned about their safety.

..."With all these police not being there, I'm going to protect me."

...Toledo Police Chief Michael Navarre believes owning a gun is a personal choice. He said firearms are more likely to kill loved ones, especially children, than intruders.

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