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Akron's new police chief: Violence in the city is 'unacceptable'

Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett.jpg
Posted at 7:31 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 19:50:21-04

AKRON, Ohio — Akron's new police chief says the city's crime rate is unacceptable and it's something he plans to change.

Steve Mylett, 56, moved 2,400 miles from Bellevue, Washington to Akron to take the job as the city's top cop. He's now in charge of a department that has investigated 84 murders in two years compared to eight murders during the same time in the West Coast city he came from.

"This is a community issue that we have to end now," Mylett said.

A week into the job and Mylett is focused on the violence plaguing Akron. Through July of this year, there have been 71 documented shooting incidents in the city. Those include murders, felonious assaults and discharging guns. Of the 34 homicides in 2021, 31 of the victims died from gunfire, with 16 cases solved. All of last year, the city saw 50 homicides, 36 of which involved guns. Of those, 38 cases were solved.

"It's unacceptable. That's my reaction. It's unacceptable and we've got to solve it. We need to stop it," Mylett said.

Following a ceremonial swearing-in Thursday afternoon, Mylett sat down with News 5, and said he's evaluating what the department can specifically do to curb the violence.

"It's gonna take me just a little bit to find out exactly what we're doing, what's worked, what hasn't worked, and I am not above stealing and ripping off other police departments and their ideas and customizing them to the needs of our local community," Mylett said.

Something Mylett plans to do very soon is meet with faith-based leaders.

“I am going to be reaching out next week to several of the faith-based leaders and find out what the relationship is," Mylett said.

Mylett stressed fixing the serious problem goes beyond police and church groups. He said help is also needed from residents, businesses and school districts too.

"We need to identify what is leading one human being to look at another and pull the trigger," Mylett said.

The chief says he took the job in part because of Akron's affordability and a strong connection between the government and the people. But he also says there's work to be done to build up the trust with police and on social justice issues.

"Building that community trust and establishing legitimacy for us in peoples' lives is the work of our time and when I say "our time", the chiefs of police and police departments," Mylett said.

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