Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan has announced changes to the process for recruiting police, fire, and EMS, including an increase in the maximum age for new hires.
As of Monday, the maximum age to be hired as a police officer is up from 35 to 40, while the max age to be hired as a firefighters is now 35, up from 31. Also on Monday, thanks to funding from Issue 4, the Akron Police Department is able to host an in-house police academy, opposed to farming out the academy to other departments, including Columbus, as they've done since 2008.
The minimum wage for new recruits has gone up to $26.22 per hour, according to the press release (read below), thus making the job more attractive to young and older cadets.
Akron, Ohio, February 4, 2019 – Today, Mayor Horrigan is announcing several changes to the process for recruiting police officers and firefighter/medics, including increasing the maximum age for new hires and bringing the police academy back in-house.
“As a city, we are competing for qualified candidates for public safety positions, and I am committed to attracting and retaining the most qualified, diverse, and dedicated personnel to Akron,” Mayor Horrigan said. “These changes are designed to widen and deepen the pool of potential candidates and make the process more accessible.”
First, the Department of Human Resources will be increasing the maximum hiring age for an Akron police officer to 40 years of age (from 35), and the maximum hiring age for an Akron firefighter/medic to 35 years of age (from 31).
“Expanding the age range for qualified candidates will help us recruit individuals who may be pursuing a second career or who have recently retired from the military,” Akron Police Chief Ken Ball said. “More mature applicants are likely to have an increased sense of purpose, greater life experiences and deeper community ties that can help them succeed in serving our neighborhoods.”
In addition to expanding eligibility, the City will once again be hosting a Peace Officer Basic Training Academy for new police recruits.
Due to funding restraints, the City stopped holding an internal police academy in 2008. Instead, for several years the City sent new recruits to Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC) academies hosted by other agencies. New recruits would not be formally hired or receive a paycheck from the City until after they graduated with their OPOTA certification (approximately 24 weeks). The financial burden of this unpaid training period discouraged or prevented some recruits from pursuing a career as an Akron police officer.
“We knew that a lack of an internal police academy was negatively impacting our ability to recruit qualified, diverse candidates,” Mayor Horrigan said. “We knew we had to do something. Thankfully, the funds provided by Issue 4 will help us once again host a police academy and compensate our new recruits appropriately.” Now, new APD recruits will be hired by the City and paid a starting wage of $26.22/hour from the first day of the training academy.
The next entrance exam for Akron police officers is slated for April 2019. The next entrance exam for Akron firefighters will likely be held this fall.
“Making these changes demonstrates that we are serious about building public safety forces that better reflect the diversity of our community,” Council President Margo Sommerville said. “I look forward to working with the administration to continue to improve our recruiting strategies and policies to compete for the best candidates available.”
Akron Fire is celebrating 40 years of providing Emergency Services to the community with an anniversary celebration Tuesday.
Since the program was first initiated in 1978, the EMS squadron has grown to 14 ambulances that cover the Akron area, responding to a little more than 100 calls per day on average.
Members of Akron's first EMS squads will be in attendance at Tuesday's event at the Akron Firefighters Credit Union.
In a press release, Akron Fire Chief Clarence Tucker and District Chief of EMS, Joe Natko say they are “proud that our paramedics continue to serve our community with excellence and a high standard of care. This has provided a powerful legacy for those who paved the way many years ago.”
Akron Fire Department Arson Investigators were called to the scene of a house fire Tuesday night around 8:15 in the South Akron Neighborhood.
According to the AFD report, the fire started on the second floor of the home at 1286 Moore Street. There is no report on whether or not anyone was home at the time, but there were no injuries reported.
The investigation into the cause is ongoing, but again, they do believe the fire was set intentionally.
The City of Akron has announced that starting the week of April 5th, all Akron Firefighters and EMS will wear ballistic vests and helmets on calls that are deemed more dangerous and threatening to their safety.
Mayor Dan Horrigan was quoted in a press release, saying, “This is the unfortunate but necessary result of changes in our landscape, including the increasing frequency of volatile and dangerous emergency situations. One of our highest responsibilities is to the safety of our first responders. Our firefighter/medics can’t help others unless they are safe and protected themselves.”
The protective exuipment was made possible, in part, thanks to the passage of Issue 4, the income tax increase, back in November. The press release noted that the Northern Ohio Golf Charities also provided a $29,000 to cover costs as well. According to the press release, each Akron EMS unit will be outfitted with four sets of ballistic gear (helmets and vests), "to be used whenever conditions warrant added protection." Those conditions, as explained by the city, would include active shooter situations, or other calls that have the potential for escalating into violent situations.
“Ballistic protection for the safety of our personnel has been a priority for the Akron Fire Department for many years,” Fire Chief Clarence Tucker said. “Providing our officers with this gear will allow them to more safely respond and care for victims at the scene of a shooting or other violent event.”
Two women, 2 dogs, 10 cats, and 1 snake all managed to get out safely when the home they were living in on Kennebex Avenue in Akron caught fire Sunday afternoon. According to the report from Akron Fire, the fire was under control around 4 p.m. Sunday. No one was injured.
Akron Fire investigators haven't determined the cause yet.
The American Red Cross is assisting the residents.
There's been no owrd on the extent of the damage at the home.
UPDATE: The teenaged driver, charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and more in the fatal crash that took two other teens' lives back in July, made her first court appearance in Summit County Juvenile Court Thursday. Her attorney, on her behalf, entered a denial to the charges, the equivalent to a "not guilty" plea in adult court. She has been remanded to the custody of her parents until her next appearance in court on September 12th, at 10:30 a.m.
Akron attorney Adam VanHo, who is representing the girl, says she has never been in trouble with the law, adding that she is remorseful and is having a hard time dealing with the accident that claimed the life of her cousin and another young girl.
On Thursday, the Akron Police Department Traffic Reconstruction Unit has signed off on charges that have been filed against a 16-year-old Akron girl for her part in a fatal accident involving an Akron Fire truck.
According to the police report, the teenager drove through a red light at the intersection of West Exchange Street and South Rhodes Avenue in Akron on July 14th at 3:46 p.m. An Akron Fire truck that was traveling southbound through the intersection slammed into the teen's Chevy Trailblazer. Two girls, a 15-year-old from Akron and a 16-year-old from Tallmadge were killed in the accident.
The teen, whose name hasn't been released, is charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular manslaughter, one count of running a red light, vehicular assault, operating a vehicle on a temporary permit without a licensed driver, and operating a vehicle with more than one juvenile passenger, according to Akron Police.
Following the accident, the girl was transported to the Summit County Juvenile Detention Center.
Akron Police and Fire Investigators say the man accused of setting the fire that killed a family of 7 in their home on Fultz Street in Akron back in May is suspected in two other fires, one that claimed more victims.
Stanley Ford, 58, of Hillcrest Street, was originally charged in the May 15, 2017, fire that killed 7 members of the Boggs/Huggins family, including 5 children. In that case, Ford is charged with 1 count of aggravated arson and 7 counts of aggravated murder. On Thursday, the Deputy Chief Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Margaret Scott announced the additional aggravated arson, aggravated murder, and more charges Thursday. The additional charges are connected to another house fire on Fultz Street, just a few doors down from the May fire, that left an Akron couple dead, and a car fire. There were no injuries as a result of the car fire. In total, Ford is facing 22 counts of aggravated murder, 2 counts of aggravated arson, 1 additional count of arson, and several more charges. "Never before in Summit County history has a suspect been charged with the murders of 9 people," Scott said.
"This is the worst crime... in the history of this city," Akron Police Chief James Nice said during the press conference, adding that he was at the scene of both house fires and witnessed the tragic nature of the crimes, calling them "horrific."
Ford remains in Summit County Jail, awaiting his next court appearance, Wednesday, August 2nd.
Facial reconstruction technology is not new to forensics, but it is new to Northeast Ohio, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
In a press conference at Akron Police headquarters downtown, DeWine along with Akron Fire Chief Clarence Tucker, Akron Police Captain Jesse Leeser who heads the Detective Bureau, Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler, M.D., and other law enforcement officials, DeWine unveiled the facial reconstruction of a human skull that was found at the scene of an Akron fire.
The fire in question happened at a vacant home at 1345 Marcy Street back in 2012. Akron Fire Chief Clarence Tucker said that the department conducted their standard three-tiered sweep of the home and found no human remains. It was not until January 8, 2016, that the remains of John Doe were found. Captain Leeser said remains were found inside and outside the home. Just recently, forensic scientists with Ohio BCI and Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania were able to use facial reconstruction technology to put together the model (pictured.) It is their estimate that the John Doe is a white male, between 30 and 55-years-old. He's estimated at 5'9", but his weight, hair color and eye color remain unknown.
DeWine's office's hope is that someone might recognize the man and contact law enforcement.
As for the facial reconstruction technology, DeWine says it's been used in cases in Ohio before, but not in Northeast Ohio to this point.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, during a speech at Akron's Fire Station #2 Thursday morning, announced that he is proposing a quarter-percent income tax increase to be put on the November ballot.
Mayor Horrigan cited several reasons for the "necessary increase," including deteriorating roads and Akron Police Department and Fire Department needs. "The City of Akron continues to lose about $15 Million every year from the elimination of fair tax sharing in the state of Ohio," the Mayor said. Since the Recession of 2008, Horrigan added, the city has lost a total of $80 Million in unrealized income tax revenue.
If approved by City Council, the issue would be placed on the November ballot for Akron residents to vote on. The proposed increase would raise the current income tax rate of 2.25% to 2.5%.
The City of Akron hasn't had a general income tax increase (see next paragraph) since 1981 for "essential city services", Horrigan said in a prepared release. He says the city desperately needs this proposed increase for new, updated police cruisers and fire trucks; to support the APD body camera database; and to improve roughly 45 miles worth of Akron roadways, just to name a few things.
Akron voters approved a boost in the municipal income tax by .25 percent in 2003 dedicated to fund an $800 million dollar, 15 year plan to rebuild local schools as Community Learning Centers by the Akron Public School district. That project has been underway but has been scaled back with the loss of student enrollment across the district. State funds are used as well as local funding generated by the Akron income tax percentage taken for the school rebuilding project.
Mayor Horrigan touted his adminstration's efforts to continually do "more with less," but says the increase is necessary to maintain safety efforts and keep up with regular road maintenance and repaving efforts. Akron Police Chief James Nice and Fire Chief Clarence Tucker were on hand for the Mayor's announcement Thursday, and they both expressed their full support for the tax increase.
The Mayor will officially present his proposal to Akron City Council this coming Monday, June 26th.
Below is the press release from the Mayor's office regarding the proposed increase:
Akron, Ohio, June 22, 2017– Today, Mayor Horrigan announced his proposal for a ¼% earned income tax increase to fund capital and operating needs for police, fire/EMS, public service and roads in the City of Akron. The income tax proposal, if passed by City Council, would be placed on the November 7, 2017 ballot for approval by Akron voters.
“Over the last several years, the City of Akron has continued to do more with less. We have made cuts across the board, reduced personnel, and consolidated services to reflect the City’s revenue challenges. However, we simply cannot cut our way to prosperity,” Mayor Horrigan said of the proposal. “It has been 36 years since our last income tax increase for essential city services, and as we seek to grow our population and revitalize our neighborhoods, our city needs and deserves this funding. The time is now.”
On average, the funds would be spent between police (1/3), fire/EMS (1/3), and streets (1/3). “It is essential that we provide our police and fire/EMS personnel with the equipment and facilities they need to protect our neighborhoods and keep us safe. And, we simply cannot allow our roads to deteriorate further if we expect our neighborhoods and business districts to thrive,” Mayor Horrigan said.
The City of Akron has lost $15 million per year in fair tax-sharing from the State of Ohio and lost an estimated $80 million in unrealized income tax revenue since 2008, as a result of the recession. Without replacement funding, the City would be forced to make difficult budgeting decisions that would impact City services across the board.
“As promised, I’ve listened closely to the Akron community over the past two years, and the feedback I’ve received is clear—we must invest in the long-term vitality of our neighborhoods. This fair and reasonable increase will allow us to significantly improve streets across the city by paving an average of 43 more miles of roadway each year. It will provide the funding needed to maintain current public safety staffing levels and replace deteriorating equipment and facilities for our Police and Fire Departments.”
Police Chief James Nice and Fire Chief Clarence Tucker joined Mayor Horrigan to express their full support for the proposal and detail the dire needs of their departments—including the need to launch a body-worn camera data storage program, replace two aging fire stations, at least one pumper truck, and 63 police cruisers in poor condition.
The additional ¼% income tax only applies to income earned at a job and will not affect retirement/pension income, social security, or other government benefits. Two-thirds of the funding raised through income tax collection is paid by commuters who work in Akron but live in other communities. If successful, this proposal would raise Akron’s income tax to 2.5% – consistent with cities like Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton. The cost of the additional ¼% tax is $1.68/week, for a resident earning Akron’s median income of $35,000.
Council President Marilyn Keith joined the Mayor in making today’s announcement. “I am proud to stand with Mayor Horrigan in support of this reasonable and much-needed income tax proposal,” President Keith said. “These funds will support the core services we provide as a City, and address the issues most important to our residents – public safety, the quality of our roads and neighborhoods.”
The Mayor concluded by renewing his commitment to continue to control spending. “Even with an income tax increase, we must continue to explore ways to spend smarter, and prioritize funds where they’re needed most.” The legislation authorizing the ¼% income tax increase will be introduced to City Council on Monday, June 26th .
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Rodney Lee Hylton, 49, of Akron, in connection to the home explosion on Courtland Avenue at South Hawkins in Akron last week.
Hylton, who was renting the home on Courtland, is charged with Aggravated Arson and Arson, both felony counts, in the explosion and fire. Hylton was inside the Courtland home at the time of the explosion and has been in the hospital since.
The two counts are because the neighboring home on South Hawkins.
Stay with WAKR.net and 1590 WAKR as more details are revealed.
Time matters. Just ask the Akron Fire Department who was just awarded the 2016 Gold Mission Lifeline Award from the American Heart Association for their quality of care and response time related to cardiac care.
"For them to be recognized by an organization that is national, that hits home very well," said AFD District Chief Joe Natko.
The fire department follows guidelines from the American Heart Association to alert hospitals before the patients arrive in order to quickly provide care. EMS contacts the hospital as soon as they realize they are dealing with STEMI heart attacks which can be fatal.
"Part of our training deals with how to recognize it, how to treat it and how to get someone to the hospital very quickly, even quicker than we normally do," said Natko. "They have to set up the Cath lab and they have to get things going ahead of time before we even get there," said Natko. "So when we walk in the door they're ready to receive that patient and treat that patient in a timely fashion."
According to the American Heart Association, the Akron Fire Department joins only 565 other EMS agencies in the U.S. and is only 1 of 57 in Ohio that have received the award.