August 23, 2014

Elyria
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Grants give city funds to battle crime

ELYRIA — The county’s two largest police departments each will receive about $300,000 in grants to help take a bigger bite than ever out of violent crime and the drug trade.

At media conferences Friday in Youngstown and Richfield, officials announced that Elyria and Lorain will get part of a $5.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

“We can either accept the fate that’s coming at us and learn to live with the violence, or we can address it head on,” U.S. Attorney Greg White said. “No initiative is the answer to violent crime, but each one is important.”

The money will help hire more police, pay overtime, target neighborhood hot spots where guns and drugs are sold, trace fingerprints and share information between departments in eight cities, he said.

The grant will go to the Northeast Ohio Violent Crime Consortium, which in addition to Elyria and Lorain includes Cleveland, Youngstown, Akron, Canton, Mansfield and Toledo.

The grant also will fund the development and operation of the Ohio Gun Crime Center, which is still in the developmental stages.

“When you’re dealing with a city the size of Lorain, and with our recent rash of violence, that’s a significant chunk of money,” Lorain
Safety Service Director Michael Kobylka said.

So far this year, eight people have been killed in Lorain homicides.

The federal funding — when combined with the reopening of the Lorain City Jail next month — will go a long way toward getting violent criminals off of Lorain’s streets, he said.

In Elyria, it will allow the full-time reinstatement of the Neighborhood Impact Unit, a four-man strike team hunting dangerous criminals throughout the city, Elyria police Chief Michael Medders said.

While Elyria has had fewer killings this year than Lorain, the city still has had to combat its fair share of drugs and violence.

“Hopefully, we can curtail this violence,” he said. “If everybody in the city works together, we can have a major impact on the drug flow into Elyria.”

Contact Jason Hawk at 653-6264 or jhawk@chroniclet.com.