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Residents question Highway Patrol-UT project

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    University of Toledo and Ohio State Highway Patrol hope to build a joint post at this lot at Secor and Dorr in Toledo.

    The Blade/Kurt Steiss
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    Part of the University of Toledo campus can be seen from the lot. University of Toledo and Ohio State Highway Patrol hope to build a joint post at this lot at Secor and Dorr in Toledo on Thursday, March 8, 2018.

    The Blade/Kurt Steiss
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Toledoans who live on the south side of the University of Toledo’s main campus want to know what a proposed joint UT Police and State Highway Patrol post would mean for their neighborhood.

“Is it for profit? Or is it for protection? We like protection,” Tyrone Sturdivant said about the the motivation for the new post.

Mr. Sturdivant was one of about 40 residents who asked questions and expressed concerns about the new station at a public meeting Tuesday hosted by City Councilman Tyrone Riley, who lives in the area. The multimillion-dollar facility would be built at the corner of Dorr Street and Secor Road, should state funding receive official approval.

UT Police Chief Jeff Newton and State Highway Patrol Capt. John Altman spent more than two hours answering questions and trying to ease concerns about a facility they said is part of UT’s strategic plan and makes financial sense for both agencies.

“I think there’s some misconceptions or perceptions or stereotypes about what we are as an agency,” said Captain Altman, the State Highway Patrol’s Findlay district commander. “This is a great forum to be able to talk about some of those things and make sure we clear the air.”

Mr. Riley said he called the community meeting because he wanted to give the people who live in the area a chance to weigh in and talk through their concerns.

Clyde Phillips, a resident, said he believes the largely minority neighborhood is “overpoliced and underserved.” He said State Highway Patrol would join the Toledo Police Department, Lucas County Sheriff’s Department, and UT Police in patrolling one part of the city.

“When you have so many different agencies in one area, and you have a large population of minorities, then that’s of great concern,” he said. “When you bring all the agencies together in the location you’re putting them, you have to understand that our ears are going to stand up a little bit like, ‘Wow. Why here? And why now?’”

Both Captain Altman and Chief Newton said their agency’s intent is to increase safety and serve the community and that it’s not about writing tickets to make money. The two also said they are working to build and maintain positive relationships with the people they serve. 

“If you’re out there and you’re living your life, the highway patrol is not into giving anyone a hard time,” Captain Altman said. “If you’re out there selling drugs, if you’re out there with guns, if you’re out there impaired, yeah, you’ll probably have a problem running into highway patrol.”

Toledo Police Chief George Kral wasn’t an official speaker at the forum, but he weighed in on the audience’s concerns about racial profiling in the area.

“The proof is going to be in the pudding,” he said. “We could come and say we’re going to do procedural justice and be fair and be equitable for everyone. Five years after this building gets erected, call us on it. Say, ‘I want to see the stats.’”

Chief Kral added that he supports having state troopers in city limits because it deters speeding and other violations of the law.

State Rep. Michael Ashford (D., Toledo) also was present Monday and said at least $1 million in requested state funding has been approved for UT to put toward the building. State Highway Patrol has a $2 million funding request pending. The building would replace the highway patrol’s aging post on Airport Highway.

The UT foundation owns the vacant lot on which the new facility would be built.

Contact Sarah Elms at selms@theblade.com419-724-6103, or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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