TPD announce new program to crack down on gun violence

TPD say this program will help establish a relationship with communities and decrease violent crime in "hot spots" throughout Toledo. (WNWO/Marcus Espinoza)

The Toledo Police Department along with the mayor's office announced a new strategic approach to combating areas of Toledo hardest hit by gun violence and violent crime.

The new program is called S.T.O.P. (Strategic Tactical Operational Policing).

TPD says the strategy will employ up to date data from the Criminal Intelligence Unit that will identify trends, offenders and hot spots on a daily basis.

"We're going to identify the prolific offenders that either live, work or commit crimes in these areas. We're going to work with our friends from probation and parole and possibly look at doing parole searches. We will be executing multiple search warrants and you will see a very directed crime control suppression initiative as well," said Police Chief George Kral.

The Gang Unit, with help from Officers from Patrol, Investigations and SWAT will be heavily present in specific areas in order to decrease criminal behavior.

With this new aggressive approach to gun violence in the worst spots in Toledo, some worry that this could lead to an abuse of power by the police. Chief George Kral was quick to dispute those claims.

"This is not a zero-tolerance. We're going to make sure that our efforts don't create or exasperate distrust or the appearance of unnecessarily aggressive police presence or enforcement," said Kral.

At the press conference on Friday announcing the initiative along with TPD was an attorney from the Department of Justice who believes Toledo could be a model for other cities to follow in the future in how they're handling gun violence and violent crime in general with this program.

"Operation S.T.O.P. is the type of effort we need to undertake throughout the district, throughout the country to address the problem of violent crime in America," said U.S. Attorney Carol Rendon.

Chief Kral said the goal of the program is to identify hot spots of crime, make a presence in the area and establish a connection with the community.

"People come outside and they want to see what's going on. A lot of that mystique, if you will, we're going to get rid of that and say this is why we were here...they were selling heroin, they had stolen guns, whatever the case may be and it's all about communications and building relationships.

As of Friday, Toledo has had 11 homicides, 25 people have been shot and 62 total shooting incidents have taken place in the city.

"These numbers are completely unacceptable," said Chief Kral.

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