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Gun crime decreased in the off-campus housing area of ​​the University of Akron

The Rev. Jaland Finney and his wife walked the south side of East Exchange Street Sunday morning early in search of a missing girl, who was later found.

He suspected that she might be where young people typically congregate in Akron on Friday or Saturday nights, in off-campus apartments near the University of Akron.

Finney heard gunshots just before 1:30 a.m. and then saw a crowd of teens and young adults flee north. Maya Noelle McFetridge, an 18-year-old UA freshman, had been murdered.

The Second Baptist Church associate stood in awe that Sunday morning on a hill in front of a nearby gas station as the young man passed him. . They laughed and mocked each other as they flocked to a fight less than the length of a football field since the fatal shooting on Kling Street.

"It's like they didn't notice the loss of life, and that's what I'm trying to interrupt, trying to teach young people how to value their lives," he said. "It's like I've just escaped from a burning house, and I'm outside trying to tell people not to go in. And they're just running into the flames, pouring gas on them."

The Sunday shooting shook the college community, claiming its 39th life in Akron so far this year. A 25-year-old man remains in intensive care.

Striking a nerve with parents who send their children alone, the tragedy galvanized the determination of university leaders. With pledges of help from the city and county, McFetridge's death generated a rapid commitment of resources: increased city and university police patrols, a $ 50,000 reward for information on the killer, an offensive against the owners with a blind eye to the house out of control.

After six months of planning, the city, county, and university are now also deploying 50 new police cameras near campus to be served by city interns and students.

Mayor Dan Horrigan called the university "a fundamental institution in our community."

"As a community, as students, teachers, parents, and stakeholders – now is not the time to back down or turn around," said the mayor.

Community leaders in the areas experiencing the most gun violence say this week's actions are the response from "all of Akron" that the mayor and new police chief have been saying is needed.

Now they want to know when this same response will come to their neighborhoods.

"I have to emphasize how horrible it is – a young girl sent to school for an education and never comes home," Finney said. “However, this rush for resources; is the domino effect & mldr; These domino effects do not occur on Copley Road.

“Something has to be done, not these responses, these knee-jerk responses, only to back off when things settle down. All of these conversations and concerns were expressed last year when Tyree Halsell was assassinated. Two weeks later, Mikayla Pickett was murdered. Three weeks later, Mar'Viyah Jones. A 1 year, 8 year old, 6 year old boy in the span of six weeks was killed, and they all had these ideas about what we had to do.

"It's 14 months later and nothing has been done," said Finney, who is "tired of talking and working groups."

'I am the typical father who is always worried'

Community leaders have reacted with mixed emotions to the city's response to this latest murder. Some see hope in a model of security close to campus, which in relative terms is one of the safest places to be in the heart of Akron.

Others want to focus on where guns are most likely to kill or injure.

A census tract-level analysis of 1,280 firearm crimes, including assaults, shootings, and murders, from January 2020 through August this year shows 49 sub-neighborhoods in Akron with higher per capita gun activity than the northern half of University. Park, where most of the off-campus student housing is located.

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Finney and others do not want to decrease the loss of life this past weekend in a relatively safer part of town. They commend the university for taking concrete steps to address the fear that parents outside of Akron felt when their son's classmate was killed.

Glenn Adkins, whose daughter goes to UA but lives off campus, said it's a devastating loss.

"I can't imagine what those parents are going through," he said.

Adkins lives in Stark County and wants his daughter to move to Stark State, but she is in her third year and wants to stay at UA. He lives a few blocks from where the shooting occurred.

He also works late into the night and has to walk from a parking lot to his apartment after midnight. That scares Adkins every night, he said.

"I'm the typical father who is always worried about his daughter," said Adkins, a former police officer who would like to see more police doing more than writing parking tickets.

The City's Response to Crime in Akron

Led by Horrigan, new Police Chief Steve Mylett, and a legislative council of 13, the city's long list of ideas for ensuring the safety of its residents is growing. as millions of dollars in aid come in from the federal government's latest pandemic aid bill.

More overtime, more officers, more crime cameras, more community policing, more recreational and tutoring programs. Better jobs, better opportunities. All of these and more are in a bloated bag of solutions.

But some neighborhood and community leaders wonder when the bag of solutions will open.

"I understand, and my condolences to Maya's family," said District 5 Councilor Tara Samples. "But we have another 38 homicides in this city and we have to do something. Our response to those other 38 homicides has to be as fast as President Miller's on that campus. If that means we need to hire more police, do more patrols, then do that. But don't make the end everything.

"We have more to do than just hire police," he said. "I'm frustrated."

University Park is a small part of the Samples borough, stretching from the Cascade Valley to the southern city limits. He lives in East Akron, which has had more than twice the number of gun crimes recorded in University Park.

The city says it has installed dozens of police cameras in the past two years, including along Copley Road, where community protesters demonstrated in the street last summer in the wake of three teenagers killed by bullets.

The council funded an additional police detachment to obtain more weapons from the str eets, which the mayor has agreed to fund for the remainder of the year. Crime analysts are directing police patrols to places with the greatest potential for disrupting gun violence. And the extra overtime shifts, which have been difficult to fill due to staffing issues, are Copley Road in West Akron, Lovers Lane in East Akron, and Lane Field at the bottom of Sherbondy Hill starting at 10 p.m. at 3 am every Friday and Saturday.

One of these overtime patrols broke up a party on Kling Street, near East Voris Street, shortly before the shooting began at the other Kling Street party across the tennis courts from along Wheeler Street.

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A spokesman for the mayor said that The council, which must approve the city budget, will get clearer details on how Horrigan intends to spend the $ 145 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds the city will receive this year and next. It is asking for $ 10 million. to secure neighborhoods.

Among the most programs he is supporting with federal dollars is a pilot program to give residents Ring Doorbell cameras, a proposal first requested by several council members nearly a year ago.

President Margo Sommerville said the council will spend all of October talking about the many gun violence reduction strategies it would like to see funded, from community policing to cameras that could be monitored by an independent nonprofit and maintained for less than $ 10 each.

“City Hall, even Mayor Horrigan, has really placed gun violence as a number one priority,” Sommerville said.

A Proportionate Response

UA President Gary Miller announced on Tuesday an increase in the number of campus police officers and the immediate investment of $ 1 million in college funds for launch a camera and monitoring system in the campus neighborhood south of Exchange Street.

The university will also push the city to adopt a number of other measures aimed at curbing gun violence, including working with landlords in the area.

"I think what we're seeing happening at the university is what we're doing," said Sommerville, whose borough shares University Park with Districts 1 and 5.

The availability of broadband Internet and the increased crime rate made the campus an ideal location to pilot a camera program, said Ellen Nischt, Horrigan's press secretary.

With UA pledging $ 1 million for the camera pilot program, Samples questioned why the city would spend its limited funds when the university promises to secure the

 Made with Flourish "src =" "style =" width: 105 px! important; height: 16 px! important; edge: none! important; margin: 0! impo rtant "/></div></p></div></p></div><p> </media-oembed></p><p> Samples said he appreciated President Miller's call for the city to do more to pressure landlords who would turn a blind eye to their tenants' misbehavior. But she's not convinced that stricter rules will make a difference. The city doesn't enforce laws that are already on the books, she said.</p>

Has legislation in the city law department that would fund a Ring Doorbell pilot program for residents who wish to share images with police. That would avoid the city's concern, raised by Ring Doorbell representatives, that sharing images is a violation of the user agreement that comes with the technology.

Nischt said the mayor supports the program, which is one step closer to being funded.

District 1 Councilwoman Nancy Holland recommended using Project NOLA, a non-profit organization attached to the University of New Orleans that provides crime cameras and analysis for cities, for as little as $ 10 per camera.

Supporters say a place to start is the intersection of Howard and North, where 18-year-old Na'kia Crawford was shot and killed in June 2020. There is still no police camera there, said Samples, who is brought together other members of the community. in ordering one.

Nischt said there are cameras nearby. But he could not say if any overlook the intersection where Crawford was shot multiple times while waiting for the traffic light to turn green.

Contact Doug Livingston at or 330-996-3792.

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