News 11 Investigative Report: Taking Back Our Neighborhoods - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

News 11 Investigative Report: Taking Back Our Neighborhoods

This is a special report prepared by News 11's Jonathan Walsh.

NORTH TOLEDO -- If you could help stop crime in your neighborhood, would you?

News 11 examines those areas where neighbors have had enough of criminals and have stood up for themselves.

Jonathan Walsh visited an area on Cumberland where neighbors say crime -- break-ins, drugs, fighting -- was all over the place, even this past summer.

Then victims became advocates for a safer neighborhood. Among other things, they formed a block watch and got better communication with cops.

Sherronda Williams was a victim. Now some call her "Sher-Rebel." She's taking back her neighborhood by talking to the troubled teens hanging around on her block.

"I see 'em walking down the street. I'll say, 'Don't ya'll have school today? How come you not in school?'" Williams says. She tells us in the past, those kids used to approach her at a nearby store, asking if she needed drugs.

"But I haven't seen that lately since we got together with the block watch, and the store owner's a part of the block watch," Williams says.

Officer Dana Slay says people on the block got together and decided not to be afraid and to help police.

"Once we can get the residents to come in and partner up with us, it shows a stronger sense of unity," Slay says.

Slay and City of Toledo block watch chair Michael Dearth walked the neighborhood with us showing us how things turned around for this area.

"Our mission statement is to form partnerships with community volunteers to create safer, more wholesome neighborhoods," Dearth says.

Dearth and Slay say it's the little things that can add up, things like cleaning up around homes and showing kids how to take care of their property.

"Criminals don't want to dwell where there's cleanliness and where there are eyes watching them," Slay says.

"We all stick together and look out for each other and we make sure nobody's on the property that don't belong on the property," Williams adds.

Al Townsend has seen an improvement in overall crime. He's lived here for 12 years. "We got a few more neighbors, more concerned and they'll call you or come knock at your door," Townsend says.

"It takes more than one somebody, more than three or four of us standing up," Williams says.

"If you don't make a stand somewhere to stop crime, it's going to move into your neighborhood," Dearth adds.

"We need to be team players, and I'd like for us to think of us as team players not just take back our community but give positive things to our community," Williams says.

Dearth says in his nine years of being involved with block watch programs all over the city, he's only seen two instances of retaliation, and he says he's never been threatened at all.

On the Web: www.ci.toledo.oh.us/residents/publicsafetypoliceservices/tabid/83/default.aspx

Posted by KO