By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor
But somebody needs to care about the victims.
– Peter Moskos
A persistent and out-of-control homicide rate and the botched arrest of Olympic boxer Oshae Jones have become a political five-alarm fire for Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz and the Toledo Police Department.
According to research data by Peter Moskos, only five cities have murder rates that have more than doubled since 2017. Toledo (204 percent) joins Austin (256 percent), Portland ((215 percent), Jackson (142 percent), and Minneapolis (114 percent). Toledo’s homicide rate increase is even higher than Washington, D.C., and Atlanta (94 percent).
The recent arrest of Olympic bronze medal-winning boxer Oshae Jones is also alarming. Jones was arrested by TPD on July 31 and charged with resisting arrest, failure to disperse and disorderly conduct. However, in released
video footage Jones appears to be physically and verbally assaulted by a police officer while handcuffed.
Jones has demanded an apology from the police, claiming the arrest was unlawful. In addition, TPD has opened an internal affairs investigation. Notably, eight days following the arrest, Police Chief George Kral announced his retirement, effective January 9, 2023.
Does Kral’s retirement correlate with Jones’ controversial arrest and the escalating homicides in Toledo?
The official narrative is that Kral’s retirement was unexpected, but the “logistics of his pension” forced his retirement.
Kral’s low-key, non-confrontational approach was often lauded and endeared him to the mayor, business and soccer mom communities. Yet, during Kral’s tenure, a disconnect or cultural divide has existed between the TPD and Toledo’s African-American community.
As a local, high-profile Olympic hero, it is incredible that none of the responding officers knew who Jones was. TPD certainly must have known Jones’ address. Was there an officer present who thought that maybe we could approach things a little differently?
All Jones was asking for was the officer’s badge number, and she gets assaulted on body cam and there’s no swift personnel action whatsoever. I wonder if Jones would have been maltreated if she were a white male Olympic boxer from Toledo. I am also curious how much verbal and physical abuse is perpetrated upon lesser-known people of color and where video footage is unavailable.
For sure, under Kral, the incident suggests that TPD has lost legitimacy in the community that needs them the most and among whom police most emphatically profess to protect and serve.
Since victims also matter, what should be done?
I respect Mike Beazley’s business and political acumen. However, it is the ultimate personal, cultural and political disrespect not to have representation from grassroots Black experience at the table and heed their recommendations in mayoral decision-making.
Kapszukiewicz has given the microphone mainly to people with large platforms, not those in the trenches who have spent a lifetime doing work among the marginalized and who best know the people and the issues.
As a result, the mayor has received information on issues his advisors know nothing about. This process hurts Toledo and the African-American community and ultimately thwarts positive change. Black and residents of color are disproportionately the victims of homicides and violent crime. The extraordinarily high crime rates also promote disinvestment and scare off wealthy individuals from making large financial expenditures in Toledo. I know of one high-profile billionaire contemplating relocating back to Toledo but is now hesitant because of the violent crime and distressing police-Black relations.
Therefore, the Kapszukiewicz administration should stop putting a bandage on the problem and hold TPD accountable for failing to address the issue adequately. Violence interrupters and a safety director with experience as a former fire chief are but half-steps and inadequate for the out-of-control five-alarm fire in the police department. Instead, we need to invest in a first-rate Police Chief with demonstrated data-driven successes and superb police-community relationship skills.
Since victims matter, what else can the Black community do to put out the fire?
Kapszukiewicz currently has a charter amendment he very much wants to pass. The change, if approved by voters, would allow the mayor to serve a third consecutive four-year term, among other matters.
The amendment would also allow Mayor Wade to continue his career at a time when redistricting and other political circumstances have closed the door on his political future for many years to come.
Despite the Kapszukiewicz administration’s refusal to engage or heed the Black community’s recommendations, a growing number of citizens are prepared to show up and show out to ensure community-backed hiring of the new police chief occurs.
Using the charter amendment as leverage is an opportunity to put out the five-alarm fire in the police department. Listening to the Black community’s recommendations for once also provides Kapszukiewicz with a chance to disprove his reputation that “If it ain’t directly beneficial to Wade with either the business community, some constituency, or personally, then he doesn’t care. Even if they are victims.”
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, PhD, at email@example.com