G etting a text alert to your phone telling you about crime in your neighborhood sounds like a great idea. Since last fall, residents in West Toledo's Old Orchard neighborhood have been in the know when these messages tell them about where crime is happening.
B ut very few people were in the know about the one percent stake councilman Tom Waniewski had on the company behind the program, "I probably should have done a better job of keeping them informed of actually who this guy is doing the development," says Waniewski.
T he guy doing the development is Waniewski's business partner Dave Bonitati. Eye Citizen works by taking coded information from police dispatchers and then sending it out to phones which are signed up for the alerts.
O n Tuesday, city council approved $ 50,000 in funding to expand Eye Citizen city-wide, a move made before council members were aware of Waniewski's connections. The councilman says his focus is on safety, not getting rich, "There was never any intent for me to make any money on this. The 1% that I have in, I've had that 1% stick since 2001, almost forgot about it and I never made a nickel," explains Waniewski.
500 people have signed up for the text alerts. Waniewski says it's a good program keeping an community informed, "a lady got a text alert and it was at a burglary at a residence down the block from her, so she went and talked to the neighbor to say 'hey is there anything I can do, I didn't see anything.' Our goal has always been that the text alert would allow the resident to be an extra pair of eyes to stop crime for the police."
A lthough city council has approved the funding , M ayor Mike Bell could veto it which Waniewski himself supports. He says he wouldn't mind a clean start to something he says is needed in the city.
I t was expected eye citizen could be available throughout Toledo starting in early-July. But that may not happen because of kinks still being worked out in the system.