Canton police to fund overtime with grant

Canton City Hall

CANTON − The Canton Police Department has received an $18,000 Project Safe Neighborhoods grant for increased enforcement on the city's northeast side.

Canton City Council on Monday authorized the acceptance and use of the grant funds to pay officers overtime. The one-square-mile focus area is from Lesh Road NE to the Harmont Park area and includes the rental complexes of Ellisdale Homes, Leshdale Homes and Chip Townhomes, according to a Canton Police Department news release.

"The funds will be used to pay for additional personnel in this area who will employ a comprehensive approach to crime reduction including community engagement, addressing quality of life issues, increasing presence through walking beats and marked unit patrols, and direct enforcement," it states.

Project Safe Neighborhoods is a federal initiative to reduce violent crime through "community engagement, prevention and intervention, focused and strategic enforcement, and accountability," according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services is a fiscal agent that distributes the grant funds to law enforcement agencies. Canton received its portion as a member of the Northern Ohio Violent Crime Consortium (NOVCC).

The department is focusing on the northeast area because it's had more violent crime than other city areas of the same size. Officials will conduct community surveys and meetings for feedback on police enforcement and share updates about its effect on crime.

“One of the foundations of Canton’s response to violence is our use of data and evidence-based practices to inform our crime-reduction efforts," Chief John Gabbard said in the release. "This principle is in perfect alignment with the goals of the NOVCC and Project Safe Neighborhoods. This grant will allow us to increase our attention to the concerns of Ward 6 residents in a way that will build trust and sustained success.”

Councilman Kevin Hall, D-6, who helped write the legislation, said during a council committee meeting last week that he supports the effort.

"I think it's a good idea," Hall said.

Prior public speaks addressed

Veronica Earley, who council President William Sherer II told to leave last week for talking out of turn, and Skylark Bruce, who was at the podium speaking at that time, returned Monday to express their dissatisfaction with the way the situation was handled.

Earley said she felt it was an attempt to intimidate her. "It was just totally out of control."

Earley, who is Black, and Bruce, who is white, both said it seemed discriminatory because Sherer did not ask Bruce to leave for talking during another speaker's turn. They also admonished council members for not saying anything.

"It looked like a power play," Bruce said.

She and Earley, along with several other community members, have frequently attended council meetings to speak about the need for police reform and the fatal police shooting of James Williams on New Year's Day.

When asked for his response after the meeting, Sherer said the council rules were in place long before he became president and will be abided by out of respect for the public and council members.

"There will be a level of professionalism maintained in this chamber during council," Sherer said.

Community Building Partnership presentation

Representatives from the Community Building Partnership presented two years' worth of results from the residential exterior renovation grant program and an overview of the nonprofit's services. Executive Director Maureen Austin and Healthy Neighborhoods Manager Matt Belliveau shared the information with council members during committee meetings before the regular meeting.

Highlights of their presentation included:

  • A summary of the exterior renovation grant projects: Ward 1 had 24 applications worth a total investment of $241,832; Ward 2 had 12 applications worth a total investment of $102,408; Ward 3 had 79 applications worth a total investment of $830,621; Ward 4 had 20 applications worth a total investment of $240,798; Ward 5 had 11 applications worth a total investment of $99,791; Ward 6 had 10 applications worth a total investment of $75,785; Ward 7 had 72 applications worth a total investment of $900,443; Ward 8 had 69 applications worth a total investment of $729,061; and Ward 9 had 142 applications worth a total investment of $1.29 million.

  • The grant program, which reimburses homeowners for 10% of eligible exterior renovations, issued $325,257 in rebate checks between June 26, 2020, and Aug. 30 of this year.

  • As part of the Community Building Partnership's other services, nearly 500 families received housing counseling from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-certified counselor. Of those households, 150 purchased homes and 49 were first-time homebuyers through the city's down payment assistance program.

Reach Kelly at 330-580-8323 or kelly.byer@cantonrep.comOn Twitter: @kbyerREP

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Canton police to use grant for patrol overtime