Tuesday, Dec 12, 2017
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EDITORIAL

Toledo must have more cops

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The police force needs adequate staffing to easily respond to events like Thursday morning’s shooting.

THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
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When gunfire rang out in the wee hours of Thursday morning in a West Toledo residential neighborhood, residents said they were reassured to look out and see a swift and large police response. Dozens of officers were visible, combing the neighborhood’s backyards and garages, looking for a shooter.

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The officers were looking for the person who had just shot one of their own, Detective Jason Picking, in the face as he and a team of officers were serving a search warrant at a home on Caroline Avenue.

Neighbors did not know that at the time, of course. They only knew that shots had been fired, and they were pleased to see so many police officers after they heard the gunfire.

Shootings like this are fortunately rare in Toledo. In the last 10 years, three TPD officers have been shot; one fatally.

The police force needs adequate staffing to easily respond to events like Thursday morning’s shooting. And it needs a force large enough to deploy officers to those neighborhoods every day, every shift.

The police must be a visible presence in all of Toledo’s neighborhoods so that residents see and know the officers who are protecting them.

A looming manpower shortage at TPD threatens this.

The police academy’s current class of about 40 cadets is due to graduate early next year. When they do, they will join the 25 TPD recruits who graduated in May.

But the city needs these recruits and many more because about 150 members of the 600-person force are eligible to retire this year. Not all of the eligible officers will take that retirement in 2017, but a shortage of experienced and seasoned officers is on the horizon.

Chief George Kral has said he needs more men and women on his force and more new, young officers whom he can deploy across the city. It is imperative that we give him all the help and resources he needs.

Outgoing Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson prepared a budget for next year that includes money to hire 40 new police officers in July. On the campaign trail in May, Mayor-Elect Wade Kapszukiewicz pledged to hire 40 police officers each year. He called the current 600-officer force “dangerously low.”

The mayor-elect is right, and he must follow through on his promise to fill the police academy with enough classes to replenish the ranks.

This is going to take consistent focus because the new mayor will likely face some resistance on city council to funding each cadet class. It will not be a one-time political fight, but likely an annual battle.

Neglecting to restore the city’s police force is not an option. If Toledo does not recruit, train, and hire multiple classes of the best possible recruits in the coming years, it risks not having the force it needs. It risks having anxious neighbors who hear gunfire look out their windows and see no officers to reassure them.

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