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Published: Friday, 4/22/2005

Toledo adds 6 felonies to national fugitive list

BY JOE MAHR
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Kidnappers and armed robbers now can't flee across state lines and beyond the reach of Toledo police.

Two days after expanding the department's extradition policy, Chief Mike Navarre expanded it again yesterday with six types of wanted felons now unable to outrun the department's extradition budget.

Under the new policy, Toledo police will automatically agree to pick up fugitives accused of kidnapping and aggravated robbery who are captured anywhere in America. The latest change occurred after the department expanded the policy Tuesday to include fugitives wanted on rape, felonious assault, and aggravated assault.

"We certainly have a responsibility to bring these people back to justice," the chief said yesterday.

Before this week, Toledo police would enter the names only of murder suspects into a special FBI database of fugitives tapped by officers across the country to check the backgrounds of people they stop. Except in rare cases, the names of other wanted felons were not entered because the department wasn't willing to pay the costs to ship them back to Toledo to face trial.

City officials have said this week's policy changes were prompted by a Blade article Sunday about the case of murder suspect David Delacruz.

Delacruz fled to Texas after a 1974 killing and repeatedly passed background checks because Toledo police mistakenly failed to enter his name into the FBI database. Toledo detectives found him through other means last fall, and he now awaits trial.

Beyond data-entry mistakes, the article noted that Toledo police and some other departments didn't enter many felony warrants into the national database because of the extradition costs, which range from several hundred to more than $1,000 per fugitive.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jack Ford directed Toledo police to begin entering the names of fugitives accused of rape and felony assault into the FBI database.

But that updated policy still fell short of those employed in Cincinnati and Columbus. After reading of their policies in a Blade article on Wednesday, Chief Navarre said the department decided to expand the policy to include the two additional crimes of kidnapping and aggravated robbery, and may expand it again.

"We have to wait and see what the impact is," he said.

Toledo's extradition policies are now in the midrange of Ohio's major cities.

Cleveland's policy mirrors Toledo's old one: All fugitives are entered into local and statewide fugitive databases searched by police in Ohio. But only murder suspects are automatically entered into the one compiled by the FBI, accessed by police in other states. Cleveland detectives can ask for the names of other fugitives to be entered into the FBI database, but it's not automatic.

The policies are much broader in Ohio's other major cities, particularly Columbus.

Beyond the six types of fugitives Toledo will now extradite from across America, Columbus will pay to return anyone accused of felonies including manslaughter, extortion, child molestation, home invasion, and drug dealing.

Contact Joe Mahr at:

jmahr@theblade.com

or 419-724-6180.



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