Ohio State Highway Patrol looks to move post and team up with University of Toledo Police

Ohio State Highway Patrol looks to move post and team up with University of Toledo Police
Ohio State Highway Patrol looks to move post and team up with University of Toledo Police
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – A sense of distrust between police and residents living near the University of Toledo.

UTs police department and the Ohio State Highway Patrol plan to run operations out of one building at the corner of Dorr and Secor.

Residents questioned why another police force is coming to their neighborhood.

UT says its current building on campus has a leaky roof and is too expensive to repair, especially given that the Universitys Master Plan calls for the old building to be torn down.

Chief Jeff Newton of the University of Toledos police department says, “how much do you invest into the structure when you want to be somewhere else?”

The Highway Patrols Airport Highway building is too old. So moving in with UTs officers works for them.

Captain John Altman says that cost efficiency would also help make the Dorr Street corridor safer.

But at a public hearing Monday night, local residents considered another police agency on their block as overpolicing.

With UT, Toledo City Police, and the Lucas County Sheriffs Office already patrolling the city, news of a new OHP post in their neighborhood doesnt sit well.

Clyde Phillips says, “Whats happening is we getting pulled over more often, creating more financial burden on us and for no particular reason.”

A number of people talked about excessive arrests and increased traffic stops.

Those concern Theresa Lewis-Cleveland, as well. But she says UT is also encroaching on her neighborhood.

Lewis-Cleveland says, “We dont have a neighborhood anymore. We have businesses and restaurants and all these things and they promised me they wouldnt be coming but they came.”

As for OHP, the local captain says this is just a building move not a new strategy to target minorities.

Captain Altman says, “Were here, its about quality of life, its about reducing traffic fatalities, its about removing that criminal element.”

So the two police agencies say this is just a way to cost-effectively share an updated building.

UT likes the idea because their new building would be close to student dorms.

State Rep. Michael Ashford says money has been allocated for this project.

University of Toledo and Ohio State Highway Patrol hope to build a joint post at this lot at Secor and Dorr in Toledo.

Part of the University of Toledo campus can be seen from the lot. University of Toledo and Ohio State Highway Patrol hope to build a joint post at this lot at Secor and Dorr in Toledo on Thursday, March 8, 2018.

Toledoans who live on the south side of the University of Toledo’s main campus want to know what a proposed joint UT Police and State Highway Patrol post would mean for their neighborhood.

“Is it for profit? Or is it for protection? We like protection,” Tyrone Sturdivant said about the the motivation for the new post.

Mr. Sturdivant was one of about 40 residents who asked questions and expressed concerns about the new station at a public meeting Tuesday hosted by City Councilman Tyrone Riley, who lives in the area. The multimillion-dollar facility would be built at the corner of Dorr Street and Secor Road, should state funding receive official approval.

UT Police Chief Jeff Newton and State Highway Patrol Capt. John Altman spent more than two hours answering questions and trying to ease concerns about a facility they said is part of UT’s strategic plan and makes financial sense for both agencies.

“I think there’s some misconceptions or perceptions or stereotypes about what we are as an agency,” said Captain Altman, the State Highway Patrol’s Findlay district commander. “This is a great forum to be able to talk about some of those things and make sure we clear the air.”

Mr. Riley said he called the community meeting because he wanted to give the people who live in the area a chance to weigh in and talk through their concerns.

Clyde Phillips, a resident, said he believes the largely minority neighborhood is “overpoliced and underserved.” He said State Highway Patrol would join the Toledo Police Department, Lucas County Sheriff’s Department, and UT Police in patrolling one part of the city.

“When you have so many different agencies in one area, and you have a large population of minorities, then that’s of great concern,” he said. “When you bring all the agencies together in the location you’re putting them, you have to understand that our ears are going to stand up a little bit like, ‘Wow. Why here? And why now?’”

Both Captain Altman and Chief Newton said their agency’s intent is to increase safety and serve the community and that it’s not about writing tickets to make money. The two also said they are working to build and maintain positive relationships with the people they serve. 

“If you’re out there and you’re living your life, the highway patrol is not into giving anyone a hard time,” Captain Altman said. “If you’re out there selling drugs, if you’re out there with guns, if you’re out there impaired, yeah, you’ll probably have a problem running into highway patrol.”

Toledo Police Chief George Kral wasn’t an official speaker at the forum, but he weighed in on the audience’s concerns about racial profiling in the area.

“The proof is going to be in the pudding,” he said. “We could come and say we’re going to do procedural justice and be fair and be equitable for everyone. Five years after this building gets erected, call us on it. Say, ‘I want to see the stats.’”

Chief Kral added that he supports having state troopers in city limits because it deters speeding and other violations of the law.

State Rep. Michael Ashford (D., Toledo) also was present Monday and said at least $1 million in requested state funding has been approved for UT to put toward the building. State Highway Patrol has a $2 million funding request pending. The building would replace the highway patrol’s aging post on Airport Highway.

The UT foundation owns the vacant lot on which the new facility would be built.

Contact Sarah Elms at selms@theblade.com, 419-724-6103, or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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Posted in Toledo