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Toledo community to hire private security for patrol

August 24, 2011 9:00:00 PM PDT
One South Toledo neighborhood plans to hire a private security company to patrol the streets and help deter crime. It's not a done deal yet, but residents in the Arlington area say the break-ins and burglaries are getting so bad that they need to supplement the police with a more visible security presence.

"Something has to be done," says Marsha Heidt of South Toledo. "It really does."

Heidt's home has been broken into twice in two days.

"There was another incident on my street last night with gunfire," says Heidt. "Kids shooting a kid on a bike."

"Even though patrolmen have been great, we've had great response with police, it doesn't seem to be enough," says Cooper Suter of South Toledo. "The amount of stray kids with guns, the amount of break-ins are escalating."

Dozens of people packed into the church on the corner of Grafton and Lodge Thursday night to hear a drastic plan to turn things around.

The Arlington Neighborhood Association wants to pool money from homeowners to hire a private security company, the same one that has been used by the Old West End Association since February.

"Old West End is about third from the bottom in the zip code areas of crime statistics," says Elizabeth Hazel with the Old West End Association.

Hazel says her neighborhood has had private security for three decades, but the new company with bright blue vehicles loaded with technology makes a difference.

"I think Signal 88 is especially targeted to doing patrols rather than say security guards at a mall or stationary guards," says Haze.

"We're more of a prevention-retention type strategy," says Mario Bernardo, owner of Signal 88 Security.

The owner of Signal 88 says his guards make nightly reports. They are armed, but cannot make arrests.

"We work in conjunction with police," says Bernardo. "We're not here to replace them."

Shirley Green, the Safety Director for the City of Toledo, attended Thursday's meeting of the Arlington Neighborhood Association.

"We would go ahead and work with them the same way we've worked with the Old West End security," says Green. "We would partner up with them and interact with them in a very professional manner."

All that's left to decide is the number of people who will pay a couple bucks a month for the service.

"The more people, the more we can have them patrol," says Heidt. "Three nights a week, five nights a week, days. I think it's a good idea."

The Arlington Neighborhood Association voted Thursday to go ahead and pursue the plan. The final vote will take place next month once the details are ironed out. Leaders of the neighborhood group say they're also applying for a federal grant that could cover some of the cost.

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