August 1, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria unit back on duty

Police NIU targets street crime, drugs

ELYRIA — After a seven-month hiatus, the city’s Neighborhood Impact Unit is back on the streets this week.
Some residents say the return of the street-savvy officers couldn’t come soon enough.
“They focus on street crimes and drug activity, and they really help to get to the root of problems in the city and stop them in the long term,” said Chris Baker, South Elyria Neighborhood Development director. “They cover the entire city and they get right down into the gutters and catch people who are repeatedly causing problems.”
The part undercover-part street walking cops will work a variety of hours to make sure the bad guys never quite know where they are and what they are doing, police Chief Mike Medders said.
“They will spend some time in uniform and other time undercover, tracking criminal activity throughout the city. We want them to move around so people don’t know exactly what they are looking at,” Medders said. “They’ll be moved around the entire city to wherever we need them at that given time.”
The unit was disbanded in November due to personnel constraints, Medders said, but after an officer returned from Iraq earlier this year and a few new recruits finished training, the chief said he believed it was the right time to put the unit back together.
The five-man unit is made up of four officers and a sergeant. All five will work closely with the detectives and the narcotics department.
“The unit started back up this week, and it will help the entire city,” Medders said. “We are able to put more resources in to deal with specific problems.”
The unit was discussed frequently during Elyria 2015 planning meetings last year, according to Carol Gallardo, co-chair of the 2015 Neighborhood Development Group.
The final 2015 plan is due back from consultants who worked with the city later this summer, but in the mean time Gallardo said she is happy to see the police taking steps to keep the public safe.
“Increased police presence was one of the most important things we talked about and this unit is a big part of that,” Gallardo said. “One of the biggest thing people said is that they want to feel safe and this unit definitely helps with that.”
Contact Joe Medici at 329-7152 or jmedici@chroniclet.com.