The Suburbanite
  • Police to beef up presence for HOF crowds

  • Canton police will get help from Ohio Highway Patrol troopers this year as they address crowds and the expected parking issues that accompany them.

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  • The Canton Police Department will increase the number of officers assigned to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival Grand Parade route this year.
    By how many? Police won’t say.
    The change is “because of the problems we had last year,” said Capt. Jack Angelo.
    Police responded to several incidents involving disorderly conduct, rowdiness, fighting and public intoxication along the parade route in 2012.
    Before the parade even started, police had arrested nearly 30 people. Just a couple of hours before the parade, a police officer responded to a fight and accidentally shot a man.
    Officers called to a fight in the 1600 block of Cleveland Avenue NW around 5 a.m. Aug. 4 were told a man had a gun. At some point, a chase ensued, and Detective Mike Volpe accidentally shot Eric E. Street Jr. The shot went off when Volpe fell, gun in hand, and the gun discharged. Bullet fragments ricocheted and struck Street in the right hand and thigh.
    This year, city police are getting extra help to keep trouble at a minimum.
    “We’re going to get some mutual aid from the (Ohio) Highway Patrol,” Angelo said. “And we’ll put officers out on the street earlier than we normally do, before dark the night before. We’ll be there overnight until the parade starts.”
    Lt. William Weirtz of the patrol’s Canton post said troopers assist every year with the enshrinement and traffic control at the game.
    “We also do escort services for one of the teams that are playing in the game. We do that every year,” he said.
    Last year, troopers joined other law-enforcement agencies working the Canton Marathon, and this year, they’re adding the parade to their list of duties.
    The meeting detailing those duties hasn’t taken place yet, but troopers plan to assist as they have in years past, he said.
    Sgt. Dean Christ, also of the patrol, said the troopers would assist Canton police by responding to calls the city normally responds to on Interstate 77.
    Along the parade route, Angelo said, police won’t be putting up with shenanigans.
    “Last year, it seems like we had an increase in people drinking and young adults roaming,” Angelo said. “We’re going to have a very low tolerance for alcohol and rowdiness, anything like that.
    “We’re going to enforce all the ordinances that the city has. We’re well-prepared; we have a game plan. And if anybody does anything (inappropriate), they’re going to have to suffer the consequences.”
    The captain said officers realize that any time there are large numbers of people gathered, the chance for trouble increases.
    Along the parade route, “The majority of the people out there are just there to get a seat,” Angelo said. “It’s tradition: they go out there and they enjoy themselves. It’s the groups of people who are just out there overnight to cause problems before the parade even starts.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It’s a small percentage, but they take up 90 percent of our time. They roam from one end of Cleveland Avenue to the other and they just have problems wherever they go.”
    Problems also happen in the neighborhoods nearby the Hall of Fame festival events.
    Officers on bicycles will patrol those areas to address parking issues during all events.
    “They’ll monitoring the parking problems and make sure people aren’t urinating in yards,” Angelo said.
    Some motorists in search of the perfect parking spot close to an event tend to block driveways.
    The city typically marks one side of most streets with “no parking” signs so that fire trucks, police cruisers and other emergency vehicles such as ambulances can get through.
    And typically, “One car will park on one of those streets in the area marked ‘tow-away zone’ and then everybody thinks it’s OK to park there,” Angelo said. “We usually tow 15 or 20 cars over the whole period (of the festival). We issue a lot of parking tickets and we do tow a lot of cars.”
    He did not know how many were issued or cars towed last year during the Hall of Fame festivities.
    He had advice for anyone attending a Hall of Fame event this year: “Just be careful and be responsible when you’re out there and you shouldn’t have any problems.”
    Angelo also asked that anyone who sees something out of the ordinary or something they feel is suspicious or out of place to alert the nearest police officer.
    “We’d rather have 1,000 false alarms than one thing go undetected and something bad happens,” he said.

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