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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Pandemic Poses Challenges for Summit County Law Enforcement's Battle With Gun Violence

police on the courthouse steps
Among the challenges facing law enforcement, the pandemic has changed protocols making it tougher to keep suspects in jail.

Northeast Ohio is not exempt from the rising tide of gun violence sweeping across the nation.

But the pandemic has brought challenges hindering the work of Summit County law enforcement agencies.

Akron Police report the department’s rate for solving murders this year is 69 percent higher than the national average.

Akron officers also have taken nearly 500 illegal weapons off the streets - 20 percent more than last year.

But  new protocols to control the spread of the virus are keeping fewer suspects in jail, said Lieutenant Michael Miller.

“We take a large number of weapons off the streets through interaction with people who are making terrible decisions to arm themselves," Miller said. "But it’s two steps forward and one step back when we can’t temporarily hold them accountable by sending them to jail.”

Miller says the community can play a vital role in helping battle gun violence by speaking up about illegal gun activity.

“It’s not solely Akron Police Department’s fight," Miller said. "It requires cooperation, much of that cooperation we do get from our partner law enforcement agencies, but it requires partnership from the community - a la the family.”

In a combined statement, local law enforcement indicated conversations are ongoing about ways federal CARES Act funding can help, such as  providing rapid COVID-19 testing and improving sanitation to free up jail space.

It also could support officers and deputies whose families have been affected by the virus.

Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter.