9-day sweep in crime-ridden East Toledo yields 216 arrests

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  • Blight is considered a problem as well as crime in the East Toledo area bounded by Elgin Avenue and Front, White, Nevada, and Oak streets where Toledo Police conducted a sweep that ended Sunday.
    Blight is considered a problem as well as crime in the East Toledo area bounded by Elgin Avenue and Front, White, Nevada, and Oak streets where Toledo Police conducted a sweep that ended Sunday.

    About a week ago, Chuck Tobias noticed more police around his East Toledo neighborhood.

    A lot more than usual, though he didn’t think much of it.

    Tuesday, police announced the arrests of 216 people during a nine-day sweep on Toledo’s east side in an area bordered by Elgin Avenue and Front, Oak, Nevada, and White streets.

    The target-area enforcement special sweep was the result of number crunching.

    Data pushed through crime statistic software, CompStat, showed that, in the area with a 3.4-mile perimeter, burglaries and robberies had increased. Crime statistics for the area were not available Tuesday.

    “I’ve definitely seen an increase [in crime] in the past few years, especially prostitution and drug dealing,” said Mr. Tobias, 28, who has lived in East Toledo since 1998, and despite what he has seen, said he feels safe “walking around these streets any time of the day.”

    During the sweep that started March 15 and ended Sunday, extra officers flooded the area — including special officers from Vice, the Gang Unit, and SWAT team — at various times.

    “We picked that area because … that’s been an area that’s been plagued with an assortment of crime,” Sgt. Joe Heffernan said.

    “It’s probably the number one area in the city where we’ve been getting hit with the crime.”

    During the target-enforcement period, police recorded 50 felony charges, 35 felony warrants, 125 misdemeanor charges, 379 misdemeanor warrants, 380 traffic citations, 41 parking tags issued, and three curfew arrests, Sergeant Heffernan said.

    Police also confiscated five guns, various drugs with an estimated street value of $23,000, and $3,500 in cash.

    Fifty-six referrals were made to other city departments for boarded-up houses and other neighborhood curb-appeal issues.

    It’s a “one-two punch,” Sergeant Heffernan said. “We’ll go in there and take care of the people that are perpetrating most of the crime and clean up a lot of the locations where they’re doing the dirt, and then the city comes in with some of the revitalization efforts. That’s what you need to do.”

    City spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said employees from various departments were in East Toledo during the same period, for the second year of Spring Sweeps, cleaning up alleys and vacant lots, looking for properties to be added to the demolition list and for properties that need an expedited demolition, and noting street lights that need to be repaired.

    The joint effort was as much prevention as it was reaction.

    Cleaning up areas and removing blight, encourages others to maintain their property. It also makes an area less attractive to criminals, Ms. Sorgenfrei said.

    Overall, crime in Toledo is down, Sergeant Heffernan said, but the portion of East Toledo targeted has constant crime problems.

    “There’s a lot of crime over there compared to some other parts of the city,” Sergeant Heffernan said. “Hopefully it will make an impact.”

    In East Toledo this year, six people have reported being shot, two in the target-enforcement area, according to records maintained by The Blade. One homicide, the slashing last Thursday of Christopher Ogden, was reported in East Toledo.

    Last year, 29 people were shot in East Toledo, four in the targeted area.

    In January, the window of a Toledo police cruiser was shot out while a pair of officers were driving on routine patrol.

    Neither officer was injured; two men — Logan LeComte, 19, and Jonathan Figueroa, 20, both of 1211 Starr Ave. — were charged in the incident.

    Mr. LeComte, who is alleged to be the shooter, is charged with felonious assault and vandalism.

    Mr. Figueroa is charged with two counts of obstructing official business and is scheduled to go to trial today in Toledo Municipal Court.

    Jordan Collins, 21, has lived in East Toledo for two months. He noticed the increased police presence.

    “It’s a lot of police around here,” he said. “Too many police. But it’s a good thing. It’s safer.”

    Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.