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Published: Friday, 6/17/2011 - Updated: 4 years ago

Police chief says Toledo a safe city

Claim made despite spate of shootings since start of June

'[Toledo is] safer than any place in Ohio ... other than Akron,' Chief Navarre said. '[Toledo is] safer than any place in Ohio ... other than Akron,' Chief Navarre said.
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Despite a rash of shootings since the beginning of the month, Toledo remains one of the safest big cities in the Midwest, police Chief Mike Navarre said.

"When you compare Toledo to any city in the Midwest, you'll probably find it is one of the safest," he said. "We're safer than any place in Ohio -- Dayton [Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus], Youngstown -- other than Akron."

Crime in the first quarter of 2011 is down compared to crime during the same time in the previous year, he said.

"Overall, our crime did decrease last year and in 2011 in the first quarter despite the loss of officers," the chief said. "I commend [the officers]."

In the last 16 days, more than two dozen people have been shot in the city, which "looking at the larger period of time, I did not see anything unusual in this year from the past year," Chief Navarre said.

Earlier this month, the chief increased the number of officers on the streets. Last weekend, from Thursday to Sunday, there were an 15 more officers on patrol focusing efforts from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. -- when criminal activity is highest, the chief said.

For the extra patrols, the department spends about $4,000 to $5,000 on overtime each night -- overall the department budgets about $2.5 million in overtime every year.

"We will continue to walk the fine line between fiscal responsibility and keeping the city safe," he said.

The department will not have extra patrols every night but will put extra officers on the streets as needed, especially in times of increased activity.

Last weekend, the extra patrol, combined with a gang sweep that had been planned weeks in advance, resulted in 67 arrests on Saturday and 14 on Sunday.

"We're sending a message that we're out there," the chief said.

Chief Navarre said the drug and weapon seizures have not been big, but "sometimes the smaller seizures lead to larger seizures."

From arrests last weekend, police interviewed someone who said there was going to be a gang-related shooting at the Greenbelt Apartments, at Cherry Street and Greenbelt Parkway, on Tuesday.

Police increased their visibility in the area and the shooting never happened, Chief Navarre said.

"It's hard to measure the crimes you prevent," he said.

The chief also said May's average response times -- when compared to the previous year -- were mostly on track.

For a top-priority call such as a shooting or stabbing, it takes police an average of six minutes to arrive on scene -- the clock starts ticking as soon as someone dials 911. That time is 42 seconds faster than in May last year.

Priority-two calls such as assaults, which are a bulk of the department's calls, clocked in at about 18 1/2 minutes, which the chief said was a little higher than he had seen in the past, but faster by 3 seconds from the past year.

The lowest-priority call, for example, nuisance calls, can take more than one hour -- up 14 minutes from last year.

Chief Navarre said he and Mayor Mike Bell meet with community and Block Watch groups regularly to address citizen's concerns.

"We're asking for [the citizen's] assistance," he said. "Don't lose faith. Don't get frustrated."

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com or 419-724-6054.

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