Deadline Now: Chief Derrick Diggs & Chief Luis Santiago

Deadline Now: Chief Derrick Diggs & Chief Luis Santiago

Friday, May 10, 2013

Don't miss this week's new Deadline Now with guests Derrick Diggs, Chief of the Toledo Police Department, and Luis Santiago, Chief of the Toledo Fire & Rescue Department. They'll discuss a variety of public safety issues.

Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now:"

I have a soft spot for firefighters. When I was a young reporter back in nineteen seventy eight, I went to cover a spectacular fire. I stood there watching it like a geek, until a firefighter unceremoniously shoved me out of the way just as a wall came tumbling down. I’m not sure I even thanked him.

I AM sure he wasn’t paid enough. If it were up to me, I’d make everyone in the nation watch the new movie “Burn,” about the lives of several Detroit firefighters. Yet while they risk their lives daily, my guess is that it may be even harder to be a big-city policeman.

Long ago, I learned that pretty much everybody has some criticism against the cops, but they expect them to be there within seconds if they are ever needed. As they often are.

We often talk as if the key to fighting crime was all a matter of how much money we are willing to spend, how many cops we put on the street, or what new whiz-bang technology they have.

Those things are important, and under my government we’d probably spend more on all that.

But in a remarkable column in the Blade back in January, Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs wrote:

“Data and police officers cannot prevent or solve crimes by themselves. Citizen participation is key.”

He went on to discuss programs from neighborhood block watch groups to the Police Athletic League’s efforts to mentor young people and channel their energies into productive and legal areas. Last year, the department also introduced a Toledo Community Initiative to Reduce Violence, something primarily aimed at violent gang members to turn them away from a life of crime. These are all great ideas. But I think we ought to ask ourselves if we are really serious about fighting crime.  Police in a number of cities have told me the easiest way to cut the homicide rate would be to make it harder for violent offenders to get guns. Without assault weapons, the death toll in massacres like the one at the Connecticut elementary school would almost certainly be far lower. Yet we seem unwilling to take that step.

Actions have consequences, which is why we have police and fire departments. I think we need to ask ourselves if we are truly aware of the logical consequences of the decisions we are making, or in some cases, refusing to make.