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

APDbadge

 

Story By: Katie Cassaro

Tackling the issue of prostitution in the Akron area is no small feat, in part because  it requires an undercover mission.

The Akron Police Department’s (APD) Neighborhood Response Team (NRT) is now allowing officers to focus on this issue more than ever before.

Now, cops are freed up and teamed up with narcotics detectives to arrest local prostitutes. Together they scope out different areas of Akron, undercover, where they know prostitutes frequent, until they get flagged down by one of the girls.

“The girls jump into the undercover car and once a deal is made, a signal is given. Then the cop pulls into a parking lot or somewhere out of sight – because as soon as the girls know something is going on they start texting their friends to stop,” Officer Adam Lemonier said.

On one of their latest missions they arrested eight girls in just an hour and a half.  And that was just the lunch crowd.

policecar

Relentless

The prostitution problem in this area is big. Both locals and non-locals know about it.

And the women are relentless … They don’t want to give up what many of them see as their only source of income and what will keep their drug habit alive. 

“We have one female who’s a regular. She had a huge abscess from heroin on her arm. We picked her up, made a deal, but couldn’t get her to the jail, so we summonsed her. Five minutes later she was at the same place and flagged down our other undercover car. Then she flagged down another car. A half an hour later they saw her getting out of another car – so the girl was putting in some work,” Lemonier said.

gasmask

Photo Courtesy of Scene Magazine, Article: Methbusters

A Dangerous Task

What people don’t often think about are the risks that these cops take every day.

“It’s dangerous for these (cops) because the girls are getting into their cars. When some of us were decoys back in the day we didn’t get into the cars but made contact through the window and it was still dangerous. But these gals are getting in the car,” Captain Sylvia Trundle said.

And it can get violent.

“One day one went off on one of our officers. When the deal was made they had the agreement, sex for money, and then it looked like a tornado blew through the car. Both car doors flew open and she took off running. Part of the officer’s gear went flying out and papers were everywhere,” Lemonier said. 

“It’s such a low level crime, but the danger level is high” Trundle said.

“It’s the drugs. It leads to violence,” Lemonier added. 

Sylvia

Well-Known Area

“Then you have people living in the area who feel like they can’t even be outside their own homes enjoying it, because of the activity and the way these folks are,” Trundle said.

“And the most hypocritical thing about it is that most of this takes place right outside of [a prominent social service office] – that is the block where it is,” Lemonier said of the local “prostitution strip”.

According to Trundle the area is very well known to people in and out of town. 

“We have people that drive from counties away. When you see a car in the area several times, that’s Doylestown, Kent, Canton, stuff like that. More than likely they’re up there for no good,” Lemonier said.

And the stories that they give as to why they are in that part of town can even be quite comical.

“We had a guy about a month ago who picked up one of our regulars and said ‘I’m down here to buy bread from a bakery down on Johnson Street’. But we found he was stopped 8 years ago. He’s probably been stopped since then, but his same excuse was he was down there buying bread,” Lemonier said.

Methlabstuff

Photo Courtesy of Scene Magazine, Article: Methbusters

Other issues

Vacant houses are another big issue.

“You get the vacant houses and before you know it they start attracting the drug dealers who start attracting the prostitutes who start attracting unsavory people from outside – or inside – your community. That was a big thing that we had early on when the unit was formed,” Lemonier said.

“That’s why it’s great having these guys because they can be addressing the details (that might otherwise get overlooked),” Trundle said.

Methbusters

Photo Courtesy of Scene Magazine, Article: Methbusters

Making a Scene

And though they don’t look for it, it’s nice that the police do sometimes get the recognition they deserve.

You can find Officer Lemonier on the May 2012 cover of Scene magazine with the Lieutenant and others famous for busting local meth labs. Their story was titled “Methbusters: On the street with the most aggressive drug hunters in Ohio”.

“I have a little boy who’s 5 and he loves when dad puts on the uniform. He hears so much about the meth labs because it does take up a lot of our time,” Lemonier said.

And being a role model for his young son, while working against crime in the city, are definitely some great accomplishments.

Scene Magazine Article: Methbusters: (http://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/methbusters/Content?oid=2960907)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s