AKRON, Ohio — Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan announced Monday his plans to accept grant funding to hire 12 new police officers in the Akron Police Department.
The proposed legislation will see that officers hired for the open positions will specifically focus on reducing gun violence, increasing coordination with partner agencies and engaging directly with the community, including businesses, residents and community groups, to better understand neighborhood needs and address concerns.
Of the new positions, five officers will be joining the Neighborhood Response Team, two will be joining the Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT), two will be joining the Community Relations office, and three officers will be deputized by the FBI in the Safe Streets Program.
"With the addition of five new officers, our Neighborhood Response Team Unit will be spending a minimum of 25% of their work day or more, walking, riding bicycles and talking to the community," said Mayor Horrigan. "This is the greatest commitment to proactive community engagement in the unit's history. Not only will this deepen connections and increase information sharing between officers and neighborhood leaders, it will also make officers more visible and accessible to businesses and residents on a regular basis."
The Gun Violence Reduction Team will also be concentrating on hot spots of gun-related crime and use targeted, data-driven methods to get illegal guns off of Akron streets.
"As we mark a recent single-year high in the number of homicides, we are redoubling our efforts to keep our neighborhood safe and interrupt the cycle of violence," Mayor Horrigan continued. "I want to thank Chief Ball and the dedicated officers doing this work every day for their tireless efforts to protect our community throughout this uniquely challenging year. As the stress of this pandemic continues to weigh on our residents, these additional officers will increase our capacity to prevent and solve these crimes and to safeguard our neighborhoods by capturing illegal weapons and arresting the most dangerous offenders."
The new positions are made possible through a federal 2020 Community Oriented Policing (COPS) Hiring Program grant totaling $3,957,780 over a three-year period, with no matching local funds required. The proposed legislation will be presented to Akron City Council's Public Safety committee at 2:15 p.m. today and is expected to be voted on by Council within the next two weeks.