August 4, 2008
Eye in the sky creates a scare
Friday, July 25, 2008
By Lori Monsewicz
REPOSITORY STAFF WRITER
Don Schmidt had just taken out his trash about 10 p.m. Wednesday and was talking to a neighbor out walking his dog, when a police helicopter's bright light blasted them from above.
Concerned that police were chasing a violent criminal through their neighborhood at 19th Street and Rowland Avenue NE, a startled Schmidt ran into his house, bolted his doors and grabbed a baseball bat.
"People were actually scared," he said.
But as he and his neighbors asked each other what was happening, the Ohio Highway Patrol helicopter whirled on, continuing to provide support from the sky as part of a four-day, combined law-enforcement effort aimed at battling street crime in Canton.
The enforcement focuses on general street crime and traffic enforcement, said Police Chief Dean McKimm.
"We're looking for DUIs, drugs, curfew violations and other types of traffic violations and street crimes," he said. The Highway Patrol had brought manpower, cruisers and the helicopter.
"It is a tool of the division used to assist ground units in observing any type of possible criminal or traffic violations in the Canton area, and it had maintained communications with ground units at all times," said Lt. Eric Sheppard of the highway patrol's Canton post. The chopper is based in Columbus.
The number of arrests was not yet available. Troopers and Canton police were expected to continue their crime-fighting efforts today and into the weekend.
Mayor William J. Healy said in a press release earlier this week that the effort enables police "to maintain a visible law enforcement presence" leading up to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival."
The enforcement effort ends Saturday.
While some neighbors applauded the city's effort Wednesday night and remarked Thursday that the crime clean-up should take place at other times of the year when the festival isn't about to begin, Schmidt asked that officers refrain from using the spotlight when they're not chasing a suspect.
"They should save the spotlight for hot pursuit and not just use it indiscriminately for general purposes," he said. "We knew there was a helicopter out there. It was there before dark." But the neighbors did not expect to be lit up for no reason, he said.
Posted by Michael Difensore at 5:31 AM