By Dustin Ensinger
The city of Reynoldsburg’s effort to clean up the Brice Road/Livingston Avenue corridor is working well so far, according to the police officer charged with the effort.
Officer Tim Kessler, assigned as a community resource officer to the southwestern part of the city since the beginning of the year, told Reynoldsburg City Council that the efforts have focused largely on code compliance, drug activity and trespassing.
So far this year, Kessler’s work in conjunction with narcotics detectives has resulted in nine drug arrests in the area, including one that closed down an illegal escort service and another that shuttered a marijuana growing operation.
“These are not things that I’m generating myself,” Kessler said. “These are all complaints by business owners and residents in the area, which is kind of surprising. Most of the time it is an officer generated tip that we’ll follow up on. These are people who are actually coming to me and saying, ‘This is a problem. I’ve noticed this. Could you look into it and see what you can do?’”
Kessler also focused attention on an ongoing problem in the area for nearly a decade – Reynoldsburg High School students leaving the Livingston Avenue campus and trespassing on nearby residents’ properties.
The students walking through private property on their way to and from school allegedly leave a path of destruction, especially fences that get in their way, Kessler said.
“They’re destroying property,” Kessler said, adding some residents have developed some creative solutions. One resident purposely grew poison ivy near the area where students were hopping the fence.
“It’s gotten to the point now where some of the residents are starting to put grease on the fence posts,” he said.
To combat the problem, Kessler has spoken to students and school administrators. The Reynoldsburg Board of Education is looking into the possibility of disciplining students for trespassing on nearby private property.
Kessler has not issued any citations yet. He said he is still in the education phase, but it is a well-ingrained behavior at this point.
Earlier in the year, he said, he caught a student on his first day of class at the school using the short cut after learning about it through word of mouth.
“It’s been happening so long they don’t think anything of it,” he said.
Kessler is also focused on code compliance. Two businesses were required to clean up their properties so far.
The position of community resource officer was created this year “to kind of address the high concentration of activity we saw there,” Chief Jim O’Neill said.
“We wanted to it to have some clearly defined goals,” O’Neill said, adding that, given it is a new program, he also sees the need for flexibility to be able to respond to the needs of residents and businesses.