Willoughby Hills Police provides educational outreach on identity theft

May 3—Willoughby Hills Police Department Detective Joseph Fink, alongside Officer Salvatore Continenza, recently partnered with Otium Financial Planners to provide a presentation on identity theft at the Community Center.

According to Police Chief Matthew Naegele, the educational outreach was well attended.

"The feedback was fantastic," he said. "Our crime prevention officers are available for individuals, neighborhood groups, churches and businesses in the community for a variety of education and crime prevention strategies."

The Federal Trade Commission has received 5.7 million reports of identity theft and fraud thus far this year, up from 4.7 million the previous year, according to the National Council on Identity Theft Protection. The council is intended to protect American consumers and businesses from the constantly evolving threat of identify theft.

"Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal or financial information without your permission," Naegele said. "It can damage your credit status and cost you time, and money."

As part of Willoughby Hills' safety initiatives, a captain's position has been added to the police department, which Mayor Andy Gardner said was desperately needed as the chief was doing most of the administrative work.

The city is still looking to add two more full-time offices this year, which will be adding three to the roster in about a year, fairly unprecedented in the city, Gardner added.

Body cameras were also put on police officers in 2022, something in this day and age that is critical, especially with the encounters that take place on the highways, Gardner said.

The body cameras were deployed after arriving in early June and have been viewed as a way to address the ongoing challenges in maintaining the public's perception of law enforcement not only at a local level, but throughout the country, as well as improve the department's practices.

"In many communities throughout the country, there's a lack of trust in law enforcement," Naegele said. "We're fortunate here in Willoughby Hills that does not exist. We've garnered unbelievable support from not only from our residents, but members of city leadership."