Northwest Ohio Development Center to lose police protectionWritten by Morgan Delp | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) announced April 30 it will eliminate all Fraternal Order of Police classifications at all developmental centers across the state. For the Northwest Ohio Developmental Center (NODC), located on South Detroit Avenue between Arlington and Glendale avenues, the three permanent and two part-time officers are expected to be abolished on June 15, according to a statement released by the former superintendent of NODC, Brent Baer.
The NODC opened in 1977 and serves 140 residents in nine different homes on its South Toledo campus. According to dodd.ohio.gov, the majority of residents are “diagnosed with severe and profound mental retardation and need extensive supports in the areas of daily living, health care, and social skills development,” which the center provides. Most of the residents engage in vocational activities through the Lucas County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, or are employed through the community, according to the website.
The Family and Friends of the Northwest Ohio Developmental Center (FFNODC) are “very concerned about the elimination of these security positions,” according to Faye and Errol Lam, the respective current and former secretaries of the FFNODC.
“The area surrounding NODC is one of high criminal activity and very unsafe. This means that the lack of security will endanger individuals, staff and visitors,” they wrote in a May 13 letter to John Martin, director of the DODD.
Ginny Dauer, a former 15-year employee of NODC and advocate for individuals with mental disabilities, said, “I am disturbed that the DODD claims that they have the interest of their clients and the clients’ families at heart, can suddenly make a decision to dismiss all the police officers.”
Kathy Schaadt, guardian of her brother, who is a resident at NODC, said, “Security is an area where management just doesn’t seem to understand how important it is to both residents and staff.”
In their letter, the Lams said “the intent to abolish NODC police is shortsighted and not well thought out.” They asked that the decision be reconsidered.
The DODD’s chief public information officer, Vicki Rich, said the number of crimes committed on the Developmental Center’s campus are “few and far between.” According to state records of criminal activity at the NODC, nine crimes were recorded in 2011, seven being thefts or missing property charges, with one account of trespassing and one assault. Rich said the NODC police officers do not have arresting capabilities or weapons in their possession, and are required to call local law enforcement or Highway Patrol if criminal activity occurs.
Rich said the duties of the NODC police officers include patrolling the grounds and investigating “major unusual incidents,” or MUIs. These investigations, Rich said, are the bulk of their job, and consist of administrative duties and resident affairs. With the elimination of the five police positions, which will save the NODC $226,783 this upcoming year, three new positions will be created to concentrate on the investigation of MUIs, Rich said. The three current full-time police officers will fill these new roles, while the two part-time officers will lose their positions, Rich said.
On May 2, Baer released a communication strategy in response to the DODD’s decision.
“With this announcement, there is much work for us at the NODC to ensure the safety of those living, working and visiting our campus. NODC will immediately begin working to establish relationships with local law enforcement in the event the need for their services arises. The employees at the NODC will be working diligently to ensure minimal impact to the daily services that are provided.”
In the Lams’ letter to Martin, the FFNODC requested a meeting with Martin’s department representatives to discuss the decision.