Toledo Mayor announces new initiative to reduce violence in the city

You can watch the full press conference in the video at the end of this story.
A new initiative aims to enhance public safety and the well-being of residents with help from a non-profit organization.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 12:58 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz announced a new initiative on Tuesday that aims to enhance public safety and the well-being of residents with help from a non-profit organization.

According to the City of Toledo, the creation of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement will play a critical role in developing and implementing a comprehensive public safety plan with a focus on community engagement.

“Creating this office is an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to enhance public safety and build stronger, more connected neighborhoods,” said Mayor Kapszukiewicz. “By engaging with community members, partner organizations and even other city departments, we can better coordinate our efforts to continue building upon the positive momentum we’ve seen.”

The City says Malcolm Cunningham, a seasoned professional with a strong background in community engagement, will lead the initiative at the Director of MONSE.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to serve as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement and to engage with the partners who have been doing this work for so long,” said Cunningham. “Public health isn’t just intervening downstream, it’s about going further upstream and seeing where the issues begin.”

To assist with enhancing public safety, the City is considering partnering to receive technical assistance from Cities United, a non-profit organization that provides support to cities that are engaged in public safety initiatives. According to their agenda, City Council will be spending $180,000 from the Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to pay Cities United for their assistance.

“Any time we can get someone to help us engage the community, I’m on board,” said Toledo Police Chief Mike Troendle. “I applaud Mayor Kapszukiewicz’s initiative and I’m looking forward to working with Malcolm. By working together and engaging community members, I believe we can foster trust, strengthen partnerships, and create safer neighborhoods for all Toledo residents.”

The City has also formed and Action Table and Executive Table which are comprised of community members who will provide guidance, oversight and input on the comprehensive public safety plan. The first meeting of the Action Table took place on May 22 and was the first meeting following a series of public input sessions that were conducted in February.

“There was a sentiment among the grassroots activists that things are getting better, particularly our youth programs,” said Mayor Kapszukiewicz. “This announcement comes at a time when we’re not responding to a negative trend, but trying to build upon some positive momentum we’ve seen.”

The City of Toledo recently received a grant from the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services to support the expansion of the violence interruption program, Save Our Community, into local high schools.

The City says the grant will further the intervention work being done to reach those most at risk and continue to invest in initiatives that address the root causes of violence while creating a safer environment for youth.

“As a council, we have been clear that public safety is a number one priority,” said Councilwoman Dr. Tiffany Preston Whitman. “It’s important that we be organized internally, so we can work better with our community partners. This office and Malcolm’s position is another step in the right direction to continue making progress.”

According to the City, residents have the ability to get involved in shaping the future of public safety in Toledo. Residents are encouraged to fill out a survey that will provide valuable insights into the specific safety concerns and priorities of each neighborhood.

The City also encourages residents to subscribe to email updates to stay informed about upcoming opportunities and meetings.

Residents can take the survey and subscribe to the email updates by clicking here. You can watch the press conference in full in the video below.

City of Toledo leaders announced a partnership with Cities United on Tuesday to combat crime. Watch the full press conference here.