In the wake of the riots in Baltimore, many people are asking how to ensure that what happened there doesn't happen anywhere else. Among the areas where many believe improvement is needed is training for police officers.
Dr. David Licate, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Technology at The University of Akron, says new technology may help improve training. He says simulators used by some departments can put officers through a variety of situations while tracking and evaluating their progress. Licate pointed out that while most officers go through their whole career without a shooting, such events have high consequences making it imperative that officers are highly trained.
Licate also discussed the report of Gov. John Kasich's panel on police-community relations, saying he supports the idea of bringing in outside prosecutors and investigators to deal with incidents surrounding the use of force.
Getting a cup of coffee with Akron's police chief just got a little easier.
The police department is kicking off a new monthly program called "Coffee with the Chief" -- bringing together residents and police officials to dicuss issues in the community and to simply get to know the person behind the uniform.
The first meeting will happpen this Thursday, April 16 at the Akron Family Restaurnat on West Market Street from 10 a.m. - 11 a.m.
The event will take place at different locations within the city each month.
The Canton Police Department announced today that officers will begin wearing body cameras after a more than year-long selection process.
The department will hand out the cameras to all uniformed officers, including supervisors, over the next 12 weeks.
The police department posted a sample video on their Facebook page showing the quality of the recordings captured on the body cameras.
UPDATE 2:35 PM 2/25/15: Akron police say they've identified the three women previously named "persons of interest" at Papa Don's Pub, the night that Akron police officer Justin Winebrenner was killed while off duty at the bar last November.
Police say the women are NOT suspects. They were patrons at Papa Don's Pub before Winebrenner's death.
Police had previously released video and pictures of the women asking for the public's help in identifying them.
The murder suspect in the case, Kenan Ivery, has pleaded not guilty to all counts against him. Ivery is accused of shooting Winebrenner after the off-duty police officer attempted to break up a fight at Papa Don's on November 16th, 2014.
(Earlier WAKR.net coverage) Akron police are asking for the public's help to identify three "persons of interest" in connection to the murder case of Officer Justin Winebrenner who was shot and killed at a bar in November.
Police haven't released many details, but they have released video of the three individuals at Papa Don's Pub in Akron and the vehicle they appeared to get into after leaving the bar.
The murder suspect in the case, Kenan Ivery, has pleaded not guilty to all counts against him.
Ivery is accused of shooting Winebrenner after the off-duty police officer attempted to break up a fight at Papa Don's on November 16th, 2014.
(UPDATE 2:40 PM 2/12/15) It was a normal day in the North Canton school district - with a lot of police presence after an online threat was discovered Wednesday.
"My experience at the North Canton Middle School today was that students came, were orderly, cooperative," North Canton police chief Stephen Wilder told a Thursday afternoon press conference, "the staff was well informed."
But Wilder says despite a "safe environment" at schools on Thursday, there are still many unanswered questions.
Police are asking why a North Canton Middle School eighth grader received the anonymous threat, via a site that caters to anonymous users. Wilder called "Ask.fm" a "creepy site".
"So were trying to see how this young eighth grader received that information, why it was him, why our middle school," Wilder noted. "And that leads us to some questions, and I'm sure for you all, too, that we're trying to get to."
Wilder says they want to talk to the student who got the threat again soon. One question they will have, is why the student reposted the threat on his Instagram account instead of notifying his parents, police or school officials.
Officials say attendance was down at North Canton Middle School on Thursday by about 50 percent.
(Previous coverage) There will be extra security at North Canton City Schools today after a threatening message was posted online.
North Canton police say the message stated that someone was going to shoot up the North Canton Middle School on Thursday. Authorities are trying to track down the person behind threat -- but they say the message was posted using an international proxy that lets one surf the internet anonymously and hides your IP address.
Police have asked the Ohio Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and the Canton office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to help with the investigation.
Police officers will be stationed at North Canton City schools, including the middle school, Hoover High School, Orchard Hill Intermediate School, Greentown Intermediate School, Northwood Elementary School, Clearmount Elementary School and St. Paul's Holy Cross Academy.
It's not just the local community showing support and honoring fallen Akron police officer Justin Winebrenner who was shot and killed while off-duty at an Akron bar over the weekend. A "Lights On" event hosted by the Heroes Memorial Foundation is using social media to reach beyond the Akron area to show support to a fallen hero.
Jeannie LeMaster with the non-profit organization said those who want to join the "Lights On" event can do so by simply turning on their porch lamp each night for a week and through memorial services. If possible, LeMaster says a blue bulb is preferred to represent law enforcement.
LeMaster said it's important to recognize those who died trying to protecting their community -- whether on officer was on or off-duty.
"In a community as tight as Akron, as condensed as it is, everybody knows who the police officers are in and out of uniform. They look to you to protect them, whether you're getting paid to do it or not," said LeMaster.
Akron police officer Justin Winebrenner is listed as the 100th officer killed in the U.S. this year.
Abbi Dobson says she was just being a Good Samaritan. Cuyahoga Falls Police Chief Jack Davis also believes Abbi was trying to do the right thing, but says she was still breaking the law.
Dobson, 18, of Akron, was helping to rescue a cat struck by a car along Portage Trail near Northampton Road. She pulled over to the side with her emergency lights on and walked into the street to help the animal. That's when a truck struck her, throwing her over the hood and knocking her unconscious .
"I got taken to Akron City [Hospital] and then the next morning, I don't remember much of it, but the cop came and handed me my ticket," Abbi said.
That ticket was for jaywalking.
It's not the type of news Abbi wanted to hear considering the pain she was in and the fact that she was unable to eventually help the cat.
Cuyahoga Falls Police Chief Jack Davis understands why Abbi made the decision to walk into the street to save the injured cat, but he says an officer's job is to enforce the law.
"We looked to see if the driver made any errors," said police chief Jack Davis. "If the driver had committed any violations, the driver would have been cited. In this case, it was a pedestrian that officers felt created a violation that caused the accident and that's why she was cited."
Davis doesn't want his department and the officer involved in the case to come across as "heartless." He stressed that the officer was sympathetic and concerned about Abbi's well-being.
"She wasn't penalized for trying to help an animal. She could've contacted the police department who would have sent an officer out there to check on it. Unfortunately, her actions caused an accident."
Abbi entered a no contest plea Thursday afternoon. She says she would have entered a not guilty plea, but she didn't want the case to drag out for a long period of time. She was found guilty, but didn't have to pay the fine. Abbi was just left to pay $60 in court costs.
Jerry Dobson, Abbi's father, said he respects the department's position on the case, but still wishes it could have played out differently .
"I respect their decision," said Jerry. "They have a job to do, for sure, and I can imagine what the lady felt like that her. That's not easy to live with, but why make a bad situation worse is my point. I think at some point there has to be a judgment call by whoever the officer is on site."
Davis hopes the public understands that the department's actions in this case was not meant to penalize Abbi for her good deed, but meant to uphold the law when investigating an accident.
"I get what she was doing. We do understand people have compassion for animals. We do," said Davis. "Our officers have compassion for the people. This was just part of the job that he had to do that night."
Abbi is still recovering from her injuries caused by the accident and is dealing with vision problems, possibly caused by the concussion. She still hopes to move forward with plans to become a veterinarian in the future.
Kleckner Elementary School in Green appears to be serving the same purpose as it once had three years ago when it closed its doors for good.
The Green Fire Department and the Summit County Sheriff's Office have been using the building as an education facility, training firefighters, paramedics and deputies.
Firefighter and paramedic Jason Brian with the Green Fire Department was involved in the four-day training session focused on how to prepare and deal with a possible building collapse.
"It's very important that we know how to safely shore up the building to protect ourselves as we're going in and trying to rescue an individual who may be trapped or injured."
The fire department isn't the one taking advantage of the vacant school building. The Summit County Sheriff's Office and local police departments in the area have also used the building for training opportunities.
It's not hard to tell that the building has remained vacant since Kleckner closed its doors in 2011. Broken windows and graffiti have hidden some of the memories students, teachers and staff created inside the building over the school's history.
"It has had a purpose, even though maybe from the outside that purpose hasn't been apparent," said Julie McMahan with Green Local Schools.
Recently, the City of Green Zoning Committee approved the parceling of the land to separate the bus garage from the school building. The school district will keep the bus garage, but sell the building.
Richfield police say the 911 lines in the city are currently not working. The calls are being forwarded to the Bath Police Department until the issue is resolved.
Richfield police are still advising residents to call 911 if there is an emergency.
The Bath Police Department will contact the business lines for Richfield police to send appropriate help. The business line for non-emergencies is (330) 659-9500 and (330) 657-2911 for Peninsula.