April 16, 2014

Elyria
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Crime hike forces Lorain cops from schools

LORAIN — An increase in violent crime has forced Lorain police Chief Cel Rivera to reassign school resource officers from the middle schools to the streets.

Rivera said officers Mike Failing and Emilio Morales, who rotated between Whittier, General Johnnie Wilson and Longfellow middle schools, will be reassigned to road patrol for the upcoming school year.

“Because of an increase in violence — there’s been a spike in the last two or three months — we need more guys out there,” Rivera said.

Lorain has had seven murders so far this year, which is two more than last year and the most since 2004 and Rivera said other violent crime is on the rise as well.

Rivera said the department only has 102 officers, and two are on administrative leave while they are being investigated for wrongdoing, four are on light duty and another two are leaving the department for out-of-state jobs.

“There’s a definite increase in drug-related, youth-driven crime, and we were looking to see where to pull people from,” he said.

Rivera said the decision came down to either pulling officers from the traffic department or the schools, and he chose to take them from the middle schools because they already have three non-police safety officers in each middle school who have received police department training for the past three years.

“We’ll still have two officers at the high school, but at the middle school level these safety officers are more than capable of keeping the buildings safe,” Rivera said.

The officers in the high schools are being paid with grant money that runs out at the end of next year, so Rivera said he plans on sitting down with the district administration to see if the high school officers are still needed.

Rivera said that he has also changed the schedules of the traffic department and the three community resource officers so they are available during the week when crime rates rise.

Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151, or e-mail awright@chroniclet.com.