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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -
City and county officials have introduced a team policing unit that will be dedicated to patrolling the downtown and uptown business district area.
The unit will include one Toledo police officer and one Lucas County sheriff's deputy who will circulate the downtown courthouse square and business district area together. The area includes a mix of office and residential space, as well as social service and criminal justice buildings.
"This is yet another way the city and the county can partner to address the concerns of our citizens and businesses," said Toledo Mayor Mike Bell. "I appreciate the sheriff and the commissioner's efforts to devote staffing to this patrol unit and their ongoing efforts to collaborate for the benefit of Toledo and Lucas County."
Officials were joined by business leaders from the downtown area who voiced support for the dedicated patrol in the business district.
"Downtown is a neighborhood, and we're going to treat it that way. And we're going to do the community policing strategies we need to do to enhance public safety," said Police Chief Derrick Diggs.
Business owners are encouraged to meet and greet the two law enforcement officers as they see them on patrol.
"We're giving our officers business cards with their cell phone numbers on it. Businesses - if they need to talk to the officers - they no longer have to call 911," said Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp.
While the pair will have a specially-marked vehicle, they will also walk the downtown area, allowing them to reach out and interact with business owners, hear concerns and be aware of changing circumstances in the downtown and uptown districts.
Dennis Johnson, with Brooks Insurance Agency, says an increased police presence can help erase any perceptions of downtown Toledo being unsafe.
"With a dedicated resource in the downtown neighborhood, we now have a resource to go to when there is a problem and we can get some results," said Johnson.
Julie Champa, with UpTown Association, also applauds the move, saying it can go a long way towards retaining and attracting new businesses and residents to the area.
"They can be the eyes and ears on the streets. We at UpTown are big on boots on the streets. It's the only way you're going to identify the major problems," said Champa.
Bell says if the effort proves to be successful, the city and county can team up for patrols in other areas.
"Sheriff Tharp deserves a lot of praise for continuing to identify opportunities for jurisdictional coordination," said the Board of Lucas County Commissioners. "This is an extension of community policing. Community policing is not a program, but a philosophy that the sheriff and his deputies strive to uphold everyday."