Story By: Katie Cassaro
Sitting in Captain Sylvia Trundle’s office at the Akron Police Department (APD) with Officer Adam Lemonier, and hearing their stories, makes you truly appreciate our local heroes.
These men and women put their lives on the line daily to improve our reality – often with little, or no, recognition.
Officer Lemonier, part of the Neighborhood Response Team (NRT), has been with the APD for 15 years now. He can’t say enough good about the NRT unit.
“It’s a community-oriented police system,” he said of their new undertaking.
They have high hopes, and proof, that this is going to make great changes in our community.
The Biggest Issues
So, what are the biggest problems in the Akron area these days? And how is the NRT tackling them?
“It’s interesting, you have a little bit of everything,” Lemonier said of eastern Akron, the area he covers. “You have a lot of businesses, you get a lot of off campus housing calls, and you have everything you could possibly imagine when it comes to police work.”
This includes plenty of drug activity and prostitution, particularly two areas.
“The local businesses bring in a fair share of burglaries, and now that school is back in session they expect a lot more car break-ins. Then there’s always domestic and juvenile complaints and other things along those lines,” he explained.
Taking More Time
So what’s it like being a police officer and dealing with these issues?
“It takes a while to get used to this job. When you’re relatively new your head is spinning. Its call, call, call, call and sometimes you wonder how you’ll handle it. The district cars just become inundated with call volume. The goal is to clear the board – get em’ out like a fast food restaurant,” Lemonier explained.
But things have changed for the better since the NRT has come along, allowing officers to spend more time on heavier matters.
A New Freedom
Officers have found a new freedom through the NRT, allowing them to take on more responsibility and leadership.
“One of the good things about the NRT is that we’re free to go back up officers, or take calls when the call volume is really high. We have the freedom to do what we want, but if zone command gives us a project to go work on we’re not bothered by the radio. We’re given a lot of freedom,” Lemonier said.
“If there’s a problem in Kenmore and an officer needs help, we go over there. If there’s a problem on the west side we’ll go there. If I have something they’ll come and help me out,” he continued.
Also, “Now we can get sent an issue or problem and spend a little more time on it without having to worry about an accident or domestic call waiting for a long period of time,” he shared.
So now that they’ve had this extra, uninterrupted time, they’ve been able to tackle some pretty big issues.
One of the things they’ve done that’s had the biggest impact on the city is how they’ve been handling prostitution in the area.
“Prostitution is one of the biggest complaints that we’ve had,” Lemonier said.
“The area that they concentrate in is separated into 3 different districts – one is my zone. On any given day you can find between 10 and 15 of the exact same faces. New girls pop up all the time, but in the last week I think I’ve seen maybe 2.”
This decrease in prostitution is a direct result of the NRT. On their last mission they made 8 arrests in order to keep prostitutes off the streets.
This also has a domino effect on other issues weighing down the community.
“With the prostitution, besides the obvious diseases being spread, a lot of it is drug driven. These girls are doing this because of drugs. So hopefully we’re keeping that clear, too. It helps to keep a lid on it. You know we’re not going to shut down the drug or prostitution issue but were trying to contain it,” Lemonier explained.
Taking Care of Neglected Issues
“We hadn’t had an established unit to work on that issue in quite some time. It’s one of those problems that’s kind of gone by the wayside,” Lemonier said, “A unit was put together and they focused more narcotics and gang based and the whole prostitution issue kinda got put aside.”
As for continuing this work, Lemonier says “I’ve talked to my zone command and people (high up) and they’re very pleased and it’s something that’s going to continue.”
They plan to re-visit this issue on a monthly basis to keep it under control.
Don’t miss next week’s story as we wrap things up, delving deeper into how the NRT handles this undercover mission, the dangers they face, what they’ve found and the other issues that they are working on!