Akron Police, members of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, have overwhelmingly approved a change in their contract that would allow the city and Police Chief James Nice, to form an anti-violence unit.
The changes are hoped to help combat an increase in violent crime in the city. The vote in favor of the change was 285 to 31.
The anti-violence unit would focus on preventing and responding to shootings and other violent crimes that usually spike during the summer months.
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic announced the anti-violence initiative during his recent State Of The City address. Plusquellic wanted to begin the anti-violence effort with summer coming on, traditionally months with increased violent crimes.
Chief Nice tells AkronNews Now how the unit would operate. " I'm combining the folks who work narcotics. We previously had narcotics working in different levels. What I wanted to do is combine those units with our vice officers, and have them all under one captain, so that they'll be able to talk to each other, making decisions about who's working what targets."
Nice says there's been a duplication of work under the current structure. "We had individuals working the same people in our gang program, in our narcotics program with the County. What has to happen is they need to be on the same page. They need to be talking to each other and working the plan as one team , not as multiple teams with different objectives," says Nice.
The Chief says his plans would also have narcotics officers on duty at night and during weekends for the first time.
He hopes to have the new unit up and running by May 1st.
FOP Lodge 7 President Paul Hlynsky told AkronNewsNow earlier this week that while he had no problem with the contract change, he didn't believe forming a special unit to fight violent crime would be as effective as adding more officers to a depleted police department.