Canton police step up patrols after increase in violent crime

Police make a traffic stop and discover the car was stolen. (Source: WOIO)
Police make a traffic stop and discover the car was stolen. (Source: WOIO)
Police discover a hand gun in the front seat of the stolen car. (Source: WOIO)
Police discover a hand gun in the front seat of the stolen car. (Source: WOIO)

CANTON, OH (WOIO) - Canton police officers are increasing patrols after an uptick in violent crime this summer.

The police department started a new initiative to fight crime in problem areas. The mayor recently authorized extra funding to fight violent crime with more manpower.

Cleveland 19's Sara Goldenberg rode along with police officers to see how it's working so far. We got to see firsthand how police officers are targeting certain neighborhoods where residents say they're sick of the crime.

Sgt. Dennis Garren and Lt. Lester Marino hit the streets Wednesday night in Canton as a part of  the newly formed "VIP" -- Violence Interdiction Patrol. Four officers in two cars are working overtime five days a week, joining other police already on shift.

"They'll work together, they can set up different operations. It could be a warrant sweep, it could be simply traffic interdiction," Garren said.

On Wednesday, police stopped a driver for a traffic violation. He did not use his turn signal and was missing a front license plate.

"Ran the plate, saw it came back stolen," said Officer Brandon Schmidt.

It turns out the passenger in the car had a warrant out -- but that wasn't all.

"Searching the car, found a gun on the front seat," said Schmidt.

Officers say the driver could face charges of stolen property and possessing an illegal gun.

Next, officers made a quick stop at an abandoned house, after getting complaints that squatters were living inside. After checking out the property, they confirmed someone had been trespassing, and made some calls to get the house boarded up.

Soon after, a call came over the radio for back up during a foot pursuit, and the police officers we were riding in the patrol car with flipped on their lights and sirens.

The suspect had a felony warrant for stolen property.

Once we made it to the scene, officers got out and searched a neighborhood near Clarendon School, but they couldn't find him.

"This is one of the areas we've been getting a lot of complaints, kids throwing rocks and telling people this is their neighborhood and they do what they want," said Garren.

The officers stopped to talk to a concerned homeowner.

"We can't even have little ones out because there's a gang. We feel like it's a violation of our house," a woman said. "It's out of control."

One of the most important parts of this program is reaching out to the people who live here, as officers try to make it a little bit safer one step at a time.

So far, VIP officers have made 50 traffic stops, which led to 17 arrests and the discovery of several guns.

Police say they have issued 11 traffic citations and served 18 warrants. Drugs were also recovered during some of the arrests.

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