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North Toledo store owners to foot bill for extra security


Nabil Shaheen, president of a convenience-store advocacy group, said the stores are targets for crime, from loitering to robbery.

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Nabil Shaheen, president of a convenience-store advocacy group, said the stores are targets for crime, from loitering to robbery.

Eight North Toledo convenience stores are paying for off-duty police officers to patrol the neighborhood and their businesses under a pilot program announced by the Lagrange Village Council and the Midwest Retailers Association.

"The new pilot program will make for a safer community for the owners of the convenience stores, their employees, and our residents," Janet Smolenski, past president of the village council, said yesterday. "This partnership will also help One Village toward solving the shortage of police officers in our neighborhood."

Ms. Smolenski said the program is part of a comprehensive safety plan for the "One Village" neighborhood. The plan includes a citizens' foot patrol, improved street lighting, an expanded Weed and Seed program, addressing problem properties, and lobbying for a parent responsibility law.

Terry Glazer, chief executive officer of the United North neighborhood organization, said, "As the program expands, and the money is available, there will be more officers. We hope the initial pool of money will grow as other convenience store owners or other businesses decide to participate."

The officers will be paid $20 an hour, he said.

That figure is a standard one for police officers working off-duty on other projects, said Shirley Green, the city of Toledo's safety director.

The association has committed to paying the officers for 50 hours of patrol time a month for three months, Mr. Glazer said.

"The officers will be going from store to store, and since there are eight stores, it covers a large part of the neighborhood, so hopefully safety will increase," he said. "They also respond to individual problems along the way."

The $20 an hour was the standard fee the Lagrange neighborhood group previously paid its off-duty officers, Mr. Glazer said. The off-duty officers are not on United North's payroll, he added.

Nabil Shaheen, president of the

Midwest Retailers Association, a convenience-store advocacy group, said the stores are targets for crime, including loitering, shoplifting, and armed robbery.

He referred to the November murder of Bassam Kanouh, a clerk who was working the 5-to-11 p.m. shift at Lewis Carryout, 4252 Lewis Ave., when he was shot.

"Money is not everything," Mr. Shaheen said.

"The safety of everybody is the priority, and that's why we decided to give it a try."

The store owners would like to have the officers stop in the stores, Mr. Shaheen said.

In July, after more than a year of litigation, city officials and the association reached a settlement ending a battle over the city's carry-out-licensing ordinance.

The agreement, which Toledo Councilman Joe McNamara spearheaded, stipulated that in exchange for repealing the city's licensing ordinance, the retailers association would agree to establish and enforce a high standard of conduct among its member stores.

The initial ordinance, which was approved in December, 2007, would have required store owners to pay a licensing fee of $250 a year, install security cameras, and hand over surveillance footage to the police on demand, a requirement some shop owners called unlawful search and seizure.

In June, 2008, a federal judge sided with a group of convenience store owners and granted a motion prohibiting temporary enforcement of the law, which would have applied to stores that sell food and beverages and are smaller than 5,000 square feet.

The ordinance was originally put forth as a way to reduce littering, loitering, crime, and underage liquor sales.

"This agreement comes out of the settlement between the city of Toledo and the Midwest Retailers Association and I think it is an excellent example of how neighborhood groups and businesses can cooperate for the betterment of the community," Mr. McNamara said.

"Obviously, we are dealing with some serious financial challenges, so this sort of creative collaboration is all going to help make our city safer."

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

or 419-724-6171.

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