AKRON, Ohio - A surge in gun violence in Akron's North Hill neighborhood has prompted city officials to aggressively go after a $1 million federal grant to combat crime.
Akron's planning and police departments applied for the Criminal Justice Innovation Program Grant through the U.S. Department of Justice.
If approved, the grant would be used to implement "target enforcement" in a 72-block area of North Hill that has been identified as "a hot spot of gun violence."
Development Manager Abraham Wescott said he's confident Akron will be awarded the grant by July and the money will be used to pay overtime for officers dedicated to working in North Hill.
"We want to continue to have livelier and actually more suitable neighborhoods for people to live in," Wescott said.
Wescott also said he believes the grant could fund after school programs in an effort to keep kids away from guns. In addition, plans are in the works to purchase a van and hire a driver, who would distribute flyers detailing positive events happening in the community.
On Tuesday morning, two men were shot at an Akron Metropolitan Housing Complex on Colonial Hills in North Hill.
Police said the double-shooting appeared to be gang-related. No arrests have been made. Both men are expected to survive.
In January, an Akron grandmother, Wylene Edwards, was shot twice in her North Hill neighborhood after she flashed her car lights at two men in the street.
She continues to recover from her injuries. No one has been charged. Summit County Crimestoppers has offered a reward up to $2,000 for information that leads to the suspects.
The grant would focus on that 72-block area where police said 15 shootings happened in 2012. Two of them were murders.
Rory Fitzpatrick, a special education teaching assistant in the neighborhood, said the grant would be an important reinvestment in the community.
"I grew up on North Hill, graduate of North High School 1985, and there is a lot more crime," Fitzpatrick said.
Two Kent State University professors have done research to help Akron compile statistics for the grant application.
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