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Published: Friday, 12/15/2006

Mayor, chief walk mall for information

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and police Chief Mike Navarre walked Westfield Franklin Park Wednesday night before and after a meeting with mall officials to discuss the shopping center's safety.

The group met about 5:30 p.m. at the mall as a follow up to a meeting among law enforcement officials on Tuesday, and Mr. Finkbeiner and Chief Navarre used the opportunity to walk the facility and observe the goings-on during a weekday evening.

At the meeting, officials discussed the Toledo police portable radio made available to mall security to help them reach police dispatchers more quickly, and the idea of increasing the diversity of the mall's security team.

Juanita Greene, executive director of the city's Board of Community Relations, said the city and mall officials are working to deploy school resource officers who have experience with diverse groups of youths.

Security concerns at the mall peaked after a fight Saturday between Derek Minley, 18, and Keith Hackett, 15. Mr. Minley was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest; Young Hackett was charged with delinquency in connection with aggravated riot and delinquency in connection with resisting arrest.

Chief Navarre has said the incident was not gang or race-related and that the two had a long-standing dispute.

He said much of the fear of the community has been unwarranted and fueled by exaggerated media reports, but he is working with mall officials to implement new security measures, such as the police radios.

Mayor Finkbeiner said in a statement he will continue to work with police and mall management to make sure shoppers feel safe and that the mall remains a premier shopping venue.

"My primary concern and bottom line is that shoppers feel safe at the mall," he said. "Anything less is unacceptable, and further disturbances will not be tolerated."

When contacted by The Blade last night, mall officials referred to a previous statement that said the behavior displayed on Saturday will not be tolerated and that they are working with the city to determine the sources of the problem and how best to prevent such occurrences.

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