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Published: Wednesday, 7/30/2008

Toledo police union says assault of woman preventable

BY BRIDGET THARP
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A 26-year-old woman was assaulted in the parking lot of the Toledo police northwest district station in an incident that might have been prevented if patrol officers still reported there, the police union said yesterday.

Last week, Chief Mike Navarre moved more than 50 patrol officers from the station at 2330 West Sylvania Ave. to the other two stations in an effort to save the city $500,000. That may have worsened an incident in which a Toledo woman was attacked, the police union said.

Raquel Varner was at a gas station at Sylvania Avenue and Jackman Road about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when she and her passengers began arguing with people in another vehicle. The other vehicle followed her, so she stopped in the police station parking lot and was hit in the head by a full bottle of Gatorade as the people in the other vehicle hit and kicked her car, a police report said.

Ms. Varner could not be reached for comment last night.

Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, pointed to the incident as an ill effect of shifting northwest station patrol officers to the central and Scott Park stations.

"This is where someone was seeking police assistance and protection and realized that it wasn't there for her. I think the city failed to protect her," Mr. Wagner said

He added that the victim waited until 3 p.m. the next day to report the attack because the station appeared closed.

"Had that [assailant] pulled in that parking lot before and that person saw maybe 10, 15 police vehicles, they would have turned around."

Chief Navarre disagreed.

Officers likely would have been absent from the station at that time of day because they reported to the station briefly before leaving to patrol the streets. The front desk is staffed by an officer around the clock, the chief said.

"People are not assigned to the district station. That is where they report previous to their tour of duty. Their assignment is an area of the city," Chief Navarre said.

"Since this happened at 2 in the morning, the likelihood of someone being at that station on July 27 would have been the same as a month ago, or a year ago, or two years ago. So that argument is without merit."

Changes at the northwest district station will be the topic of the Toledo City Council public safety committee meeting at 4 p.m. today in Government Center.

Contact Bridget Tharp at:

btharp@theblade.com

or 419-724-6061.



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