Crime is down in Akron. Here’s what police changed.
The Akron Police Department has recovered more than 1,000 guns so far in 2021, surpassing last year’s record number of firearm seizures.
AKRON, Ohio (WOIO) - Crime is on a downward trend in Akron, and it isn’t a fluke.
While many cities battle a spike in crime, 19 Investigates found the Akron Police Department is tracking a decrease in nearly all major crime categories.
We dug deeper into the department’s latest crime statistics for 2020 and 2021, comparing the data for the first nine months of each year to see what has changed.
Eight of the 10 serious offense categories we reviewed show some degree of improvement, varying from slight to significant.
“I think that’s indicative of what’s going to come in the future,” said Deputy Chief Jesse Leeser, who commands the police department’s Investigative Subdivision.
Breaking and entering cases are down 23% year-to-year, with 163 fewer incidents through September 2021.
Robberies in Akron have dropped by 22%, while felonious assaults are down 15%.
There have also been fewer shootings in the city this year, according to the data.
Leeser believes it is a direct result of the department’s targeted efforts to get guns off of Akron’s streets.
“We’ve really taken a precision type focus as it deals with gun violence,” Leeser said.
For the second year in a row, the department has seized a record number of firearms.
By Oct. 1, officers had already recovered more than 1,000 firearms in Akron.
“Last year, in totality, we only seized 941, and we have three more months do go,” said Leeser.
Not only is the police department reducing crime, but they are doing it with fewer officers than before.
Leeser said Akron saw a “huge, huge spike in crime” in 2020.
“That really taxed our resources,” he said.
The crime surge prompted the police department to reevaluate its resources and practices.
“Our leadership decided we need help, we need force multipliers to help us out,” Leeser said. “We couldn’t do it all by ourselves, so we got more involved with the community.”
The police department met with community leaders and residents to educate them on the crime-reduction initiatives.
The top brass has also embraced the help of outside law enforcement agencies.
Leeser said being able to get an assist from federal, state and local partners has been key factor in improving safety in Akron.
“I can say one thing we do here is we put our ego aside,” he said. “This is just about making the community safer, and if a federal agency who’s really invested in our community helps us, we’re on board.”
The police department has been working closely with the U.S. Marshals, ATF, DEA, FBI, U.S. Attorneys Office, Adult Parole Authority, Summit County Sheriff’s Office and the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office.
“You’re not smart if you don’t partner with individuals and with entities that can help you out,” Leeser said. “Those resources leverages against our own resources have helped and so we’ve seen a year trend downward in most major categories of reported crime.”
Leeser said the Summit County Sheriff’s Office has dedicated one of its detectives to Akron’s gun violence reduction team.
The crime statics themselves have also played big role in helping Akron fight crime.
Through the police department’s Crime Analysis Bureau, investigators have been able to identify and hone in on the parts of the city that are hit hardest by gun violence.
“The drug arrests are higher in those areas, incidents of shots fired are higher in those areas, incidents of gun arrests, incidents of violent crime, are all key in the same certain areas,” Leeser said. “So that’s our precision focus. We don’t want to go in and sweep through an area, we want to be very precise.”
Specialized police units are also being used in addition to patrol officers to specifically target gang violence, Leeser added.
Unfortunately, the drop in shooting incidents and surge in gun seizures has not had much of an impact on Akron’s homicide totals.
At least 46 people have been killed in the city in 2021, according to data from the Summit County Medical Examiner.
All but three of those victims died from gunshot wounds.
Leeser said the department has been working tirelessly on the homicide cases. Detectives have been quick to make arrests in many of the murders but some cases remain unsolved.
They are hoping community members will step up to help get justice for the victims and their families.
“I would ask that if anybody does any information or tips for us, that they can either call Crime Stoppers, they can call the detective bureau at 330-373-2490, or they can leave an anonymous tip as well,” he said.
Click HERE to submit an online tip to Summit County Crime Stoppers.
Anyone with information on a crime or a fugitive may also call Summit County Crime Stoppers 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 330-434-2677 or text TIPSCO with your tip to to 274637.
Tipsters can remain anonymous and receive a cash reward if the information provided leads to an arrest and charges in the case.
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