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Lakewood city leaders holding virtual town hall to address recent series of violent crimes

Lakewood city leaders holding virtual town hall to address recent series of violent crimes
Posted at 4:23 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 18:47:23-04

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — People who live in Lakewood are concerned after a series of violent crimes in the city over the last few weeks.

City leaders are hosting a town hall Thursday night addressing those safety concerns from residents like Cora Virgei. She typically walks her dog Nova at Madison Park every day.

“I take her out after work at like 5:30, 6, 7,” Virgei said.

That’s around the same time on March 11 that Lakewood Police said several people fired shots at one another on the south side of the park near the basketball court.

One person was shot in the arm.

Fortunately, Virgei wasn’t out walking that day.

“It was just definitely a little nerve-wracking to hear about it,” Virgei said.

In the days and weeks after that shooting, there’s been more violence in Lakewood.

On March 16, there was another shooting at the Metro PCS store on Detroit Avenue. On Mar. 17, there was an assault involving a knife at the Riverwood Cafe. On Wednesday, there was a carjacking on the 13000 block of Detroit Avenue.

“Just definitely makes me nervous walking around alone,” Virgei said.

Lakewood Police Chief Kevin Kaucheck said he doesn’t consider those incidents to be part of an uptick in crime, but rather just unfortunate incidents that happened in a similar time frame.

He adds that none of those crimes are related and police have made arrests in most of them, but he understands the concerns residents have.

That’s why he’s teaming up with other city leaders for a virtual town hall Thursday.

Lakewood Mayor Meghan George addressed the concerns in a statement posted to the city's website.

“We just want to reassure the community that Lakewood is still a safe place to live, work and play. We are actively engaged in efforts to deter and detect crime,” Kaucheck said.

Some of those efforts include expanding the city’s surveillance camera network. There are already 102 scattered throughout the city, but Lakewood Mayor Meghan George said they’re identifying areas to add more and enhance the technology behind them.

“We're also going to bring back a program that was in place maybe 10, 15 years ago, which was enhancing police officers at our parks,” George said.

George added there’s also a plan to get officers out of their cruisers and into neighborhoods on foot, “walking through downtown, utilizing more of our bike officers to make sure their presence is known in the community."

Kaucheck said while the main goal is to put residents at ease, he also wants to remind them of the role they play in their community.

“We do depend on them to be the eyes and ears of the community or of the police department,” Kaucheck said.

Some people we spoke with said they’re up for the job to keep their neighbors and loved ones safe.

“We have to be aware of it and we have to be talking about it, and we have to find out what we can do as a community to help people, and to avoid these kinds of situations,” said Lakewood resident Scott Carpenter.

Lakewood Police walking patrols are expected to happen effective immediately, and Kaucheck said officers have already been instructed to give special attention to the city’s parks before the official park patrol program starts up around Memorial Day.

The Lakewood town hall begins at 7 p.m.

Anyone interested should email Council@LakewoodOH.net or Mayor@LakewoodOH.net to register and get the Zoom link.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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