Almost 600 sign petition to bring police back to Northwest StationWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Hundreds of Northwest Toledo residents want their neighborhood police station back, but the campaign’s leader says the city administration staff is giving him and the signers “the cold shoulder.”
Retired city finance director John Bibish handed a petition to the mayor’s office today with 575 signatures to request that police activity return to the closed station at 2330 W. Sylvania Ave.
The Northwest District station closed in late June, following a few years of limited police work conducted in the building. The station opened in 1997 with 104 officers.
The city closed the station citing financial reasons, but Bibish pointed out at a news conference today that the administration is planning to add about $1.9 million to this year’s budget. A public hearing tomorrow will address the adjustments.
“If there’s an additional $2 million available, isn’t it reasonable to ask if some of that money could be used for the Northwest station, specifically for police protection in general?” Bibish asked.
Monsignor Michael Billian of Most Blessed Sacrament Parish and Councilmen George Sarantou, Tom Waniewski and D. Michael Collins joined Bibish at the news conference.
“It is a sad day in the city of Toledo when citizens have to come with a petition asking to return a public safety delivery system that they have been accustomed to,” Collins said.
Mayor Mike Bell’s administration attempted to sell the old station this summer, but council members voted down the sale 10 to 2. The decision enabled Bibish’s group, which consists of about 20 active neighbors at its core, to continue fighting to regain police presence.
Waniewski said the Northwest District is not in a “tipping point” area, but that the neighborhood could denigrate without a police station.
“If the police are not there, then we will become a tipping point,” Waniewski said. “Why can’t we become more proactive in making sure the neighborhoods don’t deteriorate? Why do we have to wait until its gone too far before we start to funnel the dollars in?”
Sgt. Joe Heffernan said the Northwest District typically has some of the lowest crime rates in the city. He said the Toledo Police Department will still assign the same number of officers to that area. The only difference that residents will notice, he said, is that they won’t be able to go to that office and make a police report.
“That is a myth,” said former Capt. Jeff Hennessy.
He said that the area will not see as many police officers as it had when a station was present because the districts are so large and because a station guaranteed that officers would stay in the neighborhood.
“Historically, if you were short that day, the first officers you pulled would be the West End because you were hoping against hope that nothing would happen out there,” Hennessy said. “That was the beauty with the Northwest station: you had X number of officers assigned to the station, so if you had extra officers that day, they stayed there. They didn’t go downtown, they didn’t go to Scott Park. They stayed there.”
The mayor’s administration did not return phone calls for comment Aug. 13.