Akron Police Department Develops New Team to Tackle Biggest Local Issues (Part Two)

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By: Katie Cassaro

With all that’s been going on with the Akron Police Department’s (APD) new Neighborhood Response Team (NRT), police are encouraging the community to step up and speak up.

Getting insight from the community has helped tremendously in fighting crime, as police can’t always be the eyes and ears everywhere.

“What’s interesting is, I’ll receive emails from people, or they’ll come from the Mayor’s office or our Chief’s office, of problems that we’re not even aware of,” Captain Sylvia Trundle said.

More than ever, the APD is linking up with the community to work together.

“Derby Downs”

A case they refer to as “Derby Downs”, was citizen driven.

“I guess at night, unbeknownst to some of us, the young people were congregating, drinking, doing drugs and everything (in a public area) and one citizen disgusted by what she was seeing (let us know),” Trundle shared.

“Had it not been brought to our attention that it was going on to that degree (nothing may have been done). We sent our NRT out there to observe this citizen’s concerns and they really hit it hard,” she continued.

Of the cases they crack, Trundle says,

“It’s a lot of things that the patrol officers wouldn’t have time to go focus on or really evaluate because they’re going call-to-call. Having the NRT has been outstanding.”

Another example…

“The case last night, a marijuana operation was citizen-driven. That’s where I’m really happy we can be more responsive to our citizens with this type of unit. I can get officers on a problem quicker than I could in the past by just relying on the district car to follow up on something,” Trundle said.

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Getting Involved in Community Affairs

And just like all of the other officers, the NRT attends many block watch meetings.

“They’re asked to go to any kind of meeting,” Trundle said.

One of her officers, Jim, who works the Goodyear Heights area, has really connected with Terry Tribe-Johnson, Summit County Reentry Coordinator, because of his strong interest in reentry.

Johnson recently invited officers to the Front Porch Café on Tuesday nights for their reentry meetings.

“It’s this whole other component of things we maybe never got involved with before, but it’s so critical in the community. The whole philosophy about reentry & rehabilitation – we need to be a part of that to have an understanding of how it’s working,” Trundle said.

Officers also attend faith-based meetings held at churches in different communities to discuss their local concerns.

Removing Fear

“A lot of people are afraid of face-to-face contact with police, or they’re afraid of retaliation,” said Officer Adam Lemonier, who we will hear a lot more from in our next story.

“We tell people ‘If you call us with something, we don’t need to put it out there that you’re the one who called’.”

Sending an email or an anonymous call are also options.

“We definitely encourage it, because it’s another set of eyes out there,” Lemonier said.

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Building Bridges

“The beauty about our department is that every day many of us are out trying to build bridges in the community. We have outreach to various diverse organizations so that when things happen I can pick up a phone, they can call me, either way, and say, ‘We have some concerns about what’s going on’,” Trundle shared.

“It can happen anywhere, anytime but it’s so important that we build those relationships on a daily basis. We don’t operate unto ourselves – we are a vital part of this community. We want people to know that we want to be responsive. If they have some need or want, to meet with us. We are open and transparent,” she continued.

Getting the Word Out

The APD shares a lot of information through their Police Information Officer on a daily basis.

“It’s so that people have a good understanding of what’s occurring in their community,” Trundle said.

And the APD is thankful to the citizens who give them the leads.

“Oftentimes what they convey to us is what drives our priorities. If someone says ‘I’ve got this problem’ – that may become our priority. We like being responsive to people because were trying to create a quality of life where people want to stay, work and live in this community and raise their families. We want to be integrated in the community at large,” Trundle said.

Their Planning and Research Department works with people every day to make sure that information given to the public is timely. This includes checking where burglaries or robberies are happening.

“But, there’s a lot of good that we find going on in the community, too,” Trundle said.

Daily media updates are available on their website: www.akronohio.gov/cms/site/10c5e96e7db5b10f/index.html

Don’t miss next week’s story where we talk to Officer Adam Lemonier, part of the Neighborhood Response Team, and find out what some of the biggest issues are in the community right now and how he and his team are knocking them out.

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