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Published: Monday, 4/22/2013

Area law enforcement working to reduce gang violence in Smith Park

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Officers from various local, state, and federal law enforcement officials are canvassing the Smith Park neighborhood as part of a community initiative to reduce gang violence.

Officials are walking through the area, bounded by Grosebeck and Dorr streets and Hoag and Norwood avenues, knocking on every door to reiterate the message that they want to ensure all residents safety, and together, combat crime. The officers and community members are all part of the year-old Toledo Community Initiative to Reduce Violence.

“We don't want to wait [for summer] to be reactive,” said Toledo police Sgt. Anita Madison during a briefing prior to the canvassing today.

The initiative, launched last year, is a cooperative agreement between various law enforcement agencies, service providers, and the community. Each branch of the initiative has a role to play in reducing gang violence; the message to gangs from each is simple: stop shooting.

If shootings persist, police promise an investigation into the gang and charges against its members. Should any of the gang members want out of the lifestyle, they are referred to various services -- job training, education, health services. The community component is meant to be the "moral voice."

The area canvassed Monday is claimed territory by Lil Heads, Bloods, and is prone to gangs, guns, and drugs.

The push in the Smith Park area is a continuation of an effort that police first made public in August when they announced criminal gang charges against members of the Lil Heads.

Those charges have since been dismissed, but police said they want to do more in the area.

Angela Self, 37, has lived in the area her entire life and said she was glad to see the police in the neighborhood.

“It was great,” she said. “I loved it. We need it around here.”

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



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