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Published: Friday, 7/18/2008

Navarre confirms planned cuts for Toledo police

Chief Mike Navarre confirmed Friday morning that beginning July 23, the police department will close the northwest district police channel.

He said in a statement that officers assigned to the Northwest District Station will be moved to other stations. The station will remain open to "enable residents to continue to walk in, file reports, and discuss issues with the police officers present."

The chief said the change will allow him to reduce staffing in the communications bureau at the Lucas County Emergency Services Building, saving the city about $500,000 a year.

From earlier editions of toledoblade.com.

By LAREN WEBER

BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo police Chief Mike Navarre is expected to announce today operational changes at the Northwest District Police Station and improvements to the police radio communication system that reportedly will save taxpayers $500,000, according to a spokesman for Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.

The chief declined comment last night.

Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, said he had discussions with Chief Navarre several weeks ago about potential changes at the district station, 2330 West Sylvania Ave.

Mr. Wagner said a shortage of police dispatchers at the Lucas County Emergency Services Building on Monroe Street has created a substantial amount of overtime.

In a move to reduce the overtime and costs associated with it, Mr. Wagner said the chief will close the city's northwest district police channel, which, in turn, would eliminate the need for one dispatch position.

Elizabeth Phillips, the mayor's spokesman, confirmed in a statement yesterday that the district station will not be closed.

Mr. Wagner said the proposal includes keeping a desk officer at the station to take reports as well as the detectives in domestic violence, special victims, and auto squad units.

The more than 80 patrol officers assigned to Northwest would be moved to other stations, Mr. Wagner said.

He said the changes could be implemented as early as Aug. 1.

"It doesn't make any sense," he said. "It's not going to save any money. They'll still have to pay utilities."

Mr. Wagner raised concerns about closing a police channel, leaving only two remaining.

For example, he said when an officer responds to a robbery alarm, the air on that channel is closed until the dispatcher opens it.

That way, the officer has clear, uninterrupted communication with dispatchers "available to him in case a dire need arises," Mr. Wagner said.

The potential elimination would leave police officers with only one available channel if one is closed, he said.

Mr. Wagner said the change also potentially could affect response times because calls for service will be dispatched over two channels rather than three.

"[It] jeopardizes safety when response times will be increased because of it," he said.

This isn't the first time the district station has been the focus of the city's efforts to cut back on costs.

In 2007, Chief Navarre and city officials considered closing the station as a result of a budget deficit that year and a potentially worse shortfall predicted this year. At the time, West Toledo residents and Block Watch leaders strongly opposed the closing, saying it would make the neighborhood vulnerable to crime.

Contact Laren Weber at:

lweber@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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