Akron Police Chief James Nice has been on the job for nearly a year. And change is afoot, for him and his force.
Last week, I lunched with Nice while he took a break from training. He’s attending UA in order to be certified to carry a gun. Despite his 25-plus years with the FBI, he is not considered a certified peace officer in Ohio. The process requires hours of instruction. And it’s not a prerequisite to be chief. But the notion of not packing a gun while leading a city force bothered Nice. So, he’s moving forward.
He’s doing the same with the department, shuffling the troops around to fill gaps left void by department departures. He told me he wants his new anti-violence unit to work like the FBI, gathering intelligence and fending off crime before it happens. It’s kind of like community policing, but with an edge. He wants unit members to gain information from residents on the streets and give officers a leg up on potential feuds or trouble spots. He wants officers to file reports and share information, building an intelligence network of sorts.
It’s an ambitious plan, one that will involve gaining information from folks who are sometimes reluctant to share tales, especially with law enforcement. It’s worth the effort. Especially in light of the rash of shootings that happened at the end of 2011. Nice believes those shootings and deaths may have been prevented, had the department gathered better intelligence. Time will tell if his plan will work. It’s certainly worth a try.