Thursday, Jun 30, 2016
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Police & Fire

City steps up efforts to protect children

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Devin Davis, 13, sprints home from school as firefighters patrol the area, part of a new effort with police after three recent reports of attempted child abductions.

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Reacting to reports of a trio of attempted abductions of teenage girls in eight days, Toledo has mobilized its fire department and focused police patrols to cover city streets at times when children are going or coming to school.

"The bottom line of it all is we want to protect our kids coming to school and going home from school," said Mayor Carty Finkbeiner during a press conference.

Chief Mike Bell said his full force of firefighters - making up 17 engines and five rescue vehicles - will patrol city streets around schools from 7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., and from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Chief Jack Smith said all police patrols, when not on active calls, would be required to focus on areas around schools and teen hangouts at all times.

"We will aggressively patrol until this problem is solved," Chief Smith said.

The chief declined to cite what specific criteria would have to be met before the mandate for focused patrolling would be dropped. But a police spokesman, Sgt. Richard Murphy, said the mandate would be in effect at least 30 days.

"The No. 1 priority now is identifying and arresting these two suspects," Chief Smith said.

Yesterday's conference came a day after a 15-year-old girl walking on Yates Street toward Lagrange Avenue in North Toledo fought free of an attacker who emerged from an alley.

The suspect was described by the girl as a dark-complexioned black male in his 30s, about 6 feet tall, with facial acne, a tattoo on his neck, and two gold front teeth with diamonds in them.

He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black, knee-length jacket, black pants, and white Nike tennis shoes.

Chief Smith said detectives were pursuing a suspect in that attack who had been pointed out by a community service agent.

He added that during the investigation, officers found another woman in the area who said a man matching the suspect's description had attacked her daughter last Friday. Police said yesterday that woman had not yet come forward to fill out a report.

On Tuesday, another 14-year-old girl was led at gunpoint into a car in the 300 block of Moorish Avenue, and driven to the 1400 block of Lincoln Avenue. There, the girl told police, the man pulled down his pants and made a lewd comment.

The victim told police she escaped after finding a hammer under the passenger seat and hitting the man in the groin. She fled to her grandmother's home nearby.

The suspect in that assault was described as a white male with black hair, a braided goatee, and yellowed teeth. He was 6 feet, 4 inches tall, about 285 pounds, and was wearing a red, long-sleeve shirt, dark blue jeans, and white K-Swiss tennis shoes. Police have no suspects in that case.

On March 16, a 15-year-old girl told police that a man tried to pull her inside a green truck about 3:45 p.m. while she was walking along Clinton Street toward Oakwood Avenue.

The girl fought off the man, who was described as black, 38 to 40 years old, 5 feet, 10 inches tall, with a goatee.

Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Eugene Sanders said he would send out an e-mail yesterday to all principals in the school district telling them to be visible outside the building while children were arriving and departing.

Mayor Finkbeiner also called on citizens to be vigilant, and said he would ask Block Watch programs to step up their monitoring efforts.

Anyone with information on the crimes can call Crime Stopper at 419-255-1111.

Contact Tad Vezner at:

tvezner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.

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