By: Katie Cassaro
With never-ending calls pouring in daily to the Akron Police Department (APD), have you ever wondered what some of their biggest concerns for this area are?
We recently visited the APD to get the inside scoop, and found there’s something big that they’re working on to greatly improve our area.
Their Neighborhood Response Teams (NRT) came together this past spring thanks to a grant, and much good has come from it.
The NRT frees up a group of cops from being “on duty” answering calls, allowing them to dedicate more time to pressing issues in the community.
Now officers can focus on the issues they see that negatively impacting our community every day, rather than only having time for emergency calls.
They’ve been targeting issues such as meth labs, prostitution and other disturbances that greatly affect our neighborhoods.
This is wonderful news for all who desire to live in a better place.
Breaking it Down
Captain Sylvia Trundle gives us the scoop on this new unit, explaining that 12 officers are involved in 3 shifts, having all bases and times covered.
Four officers are assigned to each shift and divided into smaller areas of the city such as Kenmore, Good Year Heights, North Hill, Summit Lake and downtown Akron.
“We’ve broken down our zones into these smaller areas that each of the officers are ultimately responsible for,” Trundle explained.
“My officers are very proactive and they’ve been kept very busy,” she continued.
The officers are free to go into any area and are encouraged to team up.
“If someone anywhere has a big problem they can work together without being pulled for calls of service. They don’t have to listen to the police radio for calls going out – they can be more proactive and focus on the problems,” Trundle shared.
Zooming in on Zones
How it works is that there are 4 zones in the city with 4 captains referred to as “zone commanders”. The officers report back to Trundle and her team on their findings. Whether it’s through meetings or email, they share the problems that are coming in and decide which to focus on.
“I’m encouraging them to be proactive and delve into the problems that they see out there because pretty much all of them came from the patrol subdivision. They already worked out there and know the issues,” Trundle said.
The officer that works North Hill has been out there every day answering calls for service and very familiar with the problems there.
“For him to now be able to tackle those issues and not have to really listen as closely to the radio for calls going out to take a report on an accident or go to a domestic (is great). They will go out if we get into a crisis situation, but we want to encourage them to be proactive and handle our problems out there,” Trundle said.
Many of the problems they find are what Trundle refers to as ‘quality of life’ issues. Including a lot of neighborhood disputes.
“It could be the little drug houses that are being nuisances. Maybe too many friends are coming over creating havoc, or there is suspicion that they are dealing drugs, so the officers can work on that,” Trundle explained.
“These are all the quality of life issues that come in that oftentimes our patrol officers don’t have time to really sit down and talk to people to figure out what some of the issues are. So they’ve done a great job with that,” she continued.
Seeing it in Action
One recent complaint they’ve been dealing with has been about an apartment complex in Ellet.
“The problems included drug activity, loud music and just a lot of people in and out that probably didn’t live there,” Trundle said.
As a result there were more burglaries, erratic driving complaints and more negative behavior.
“The neighbors were really fed up. They involved their councilman Garry Moneypenny and Gary, myself and Lieutenant Brian Simcox began working on this and made it a priority,” Trundle said.
They then asked a neighborhood response officer to begin to address some of the problems.
“The officer is extremely proactive over there in making stops and knocking on people’s doors. We went door-to-door at that particular apartment complex to find out who was doing what,” Trundle said.
“We also had to address the environmental area there. The environment was conducive to a lot of problems. The neighbors wanted a fence because they felt that people that were coming to visit the property were using their yards as cut-throughs, and they didn’t appreciate that,” Trundle said.
Congregating with the Community
They had a number of community meetings at a nearby church, and still do. Neighbors come together to try to keep the officers apprised of what they see is improving or still needs work.
“Our neighborhood response officer Eric Wagner has been instrumental in being a point person to help mediate some of the concerns between the actual occupants at the [apartment], the neighborhood, and government officials,” Trundle said.
Thanks to the development of the Neighborhood Response Team, this was all able to happen.
Don’t miss next week’s story where we delve deeper into the series, sharing how the APD desires to connect with the community!