By Asia Nail
The Truth Reporter
Here in the city, a new narrative is emerging—one that challenges the conventional notions of public safety and aims to usher in a future of safe, thriving, and hopeful communities. The Toledo City Council stands poised to embrace a transformative approach, discarding outdated methods and embracing a paradigm shift that demands innovation, collaboration, and unwavering commitment. Toledo has the potential to become a shining example, a beacon of progress that leaves a lasting impact on the lives of its residents.
“This is not a call for half-hearted measures,” says Tiffany M. Preston Whitman, PhD, Council Member At-Large, “It is a clarion call to reimagine public safety and unlock the city’s true potential.”
This past May, Toledo City Council voted 9-3 to approve a $180,000 contract with Louisville-based Cities United to develop a comprehensive crime-reduction plan for city administrators. Per usual not everyone agrees with allocating federal relief funds in this manner.
“We’ve already received a grant through the State of Ohio as a result of working with Cities United,” explains Whitman, chair of the Neighborhoods and Community Development Committee. “Alerts for future funding activities and federal money through this network are allowing the federal relief money we spend today to regenerate into both a solid infrastructure for administrators and redistribution of new dollars for Toledo’s organizations and educational programming tomorrow.”
Whitman goes on to explain that Toledo’s city administrorst are best equipped to confront our city’s underlying crime issues head-on when we have a step by step framework to follow.
“Our internal framework is just one piece to this very important puzzle,” shares Whitman. “Everything is coming full circle with the new Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, aka MONSE.”
This new public office is significant towards building stronger partnerships between the community and local government. The City of Toledo has had recent success with its Save Our Community Initiative against violence using local violence interrupters to mitigate confusion, but having a dedicated centralized office with a Director is a game changer.
“Now we have an office specifically responding to the work needing to be done,” says Whitman. “We now have a place to conduct our initiatives and training under one umbrella. This paired with Cities United comprehensive plan makes us much more organized and effective.”
The mayor named Malcolm Cunningham Director of the city office, which he says will help to “formalize” crime-reduction work under a department of city government.
“I can understand those opposed to the city votes approving outside consulting services, but it was in response to a real need,” shares Whitman. “This is not uncommon. We constantly engage with outside services to ensure our infrastructure is fundamentally meeting the needs of the community organizations in our network.”
Cities United is essentially about helping the mayor, administration, city council and all other department heads really look at how their resources are allocated around violence.
The City of Toledo has a unique opportunity to transform its approach to public wellbeing, says Whitman. By embracing the concept of reimagining public safety, the city council is prioritizing addressing the true root causes to violence and, this time, in an efficiently organized manner. In doing so, they are fostering community engagement and trust, investing in innovation and technology, forging collaborative partnerships, and implementing mechanisms for accountability. Through these collective efforts, it is hoped that Toledo will continue to pave the way for a future where every resident feels safe and thriving.