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Staying safe for blind and visually impaired persons

NORTH COLLEGE HILL, Ohio (Angenette Levy) -- Police met with residents who are blind or visually impaired Wednesday to discuss concerns about a string of robberies in which two elderly women and a blind woman were attacked.

"We can't beat crime but we can fight it," said Kim Mceachirn, a blind man who lives in North College Hill.
 
"We want that perception to come back that College Hill is as safe now as it was three or four years ago.  I don't have that feeling and I just moved here," Mceachirn added.
 
Mceachirn isn't alone in feeling unsafe. He and other members of the blind and visually impaired community gathered to discuss their concerns with police. North College Hill has a large blind population. The Clovernook Center for the Blind's offices are there.

"Our employees have been able to live productive lives in the community and move about the community easily and safely. This is unusual," said Clovernook director Chris Faust.

North College Hill police said crime is actually down in the community but there has been an increase in robberies. Sgt. John Ferguson said the blind can be taken advantage of because they can't identify their attacker. He told them to walk in groups and to not carry large amounts of money. He also said they can carry a so-called mugger's wallet stuffed with receipts and a few singles that a robber can take instead of a wallet full of money and credit cards.
 
"I mean it's just despicable. And certainly we want to prevent crime against any victim but especially in cases like this. I can't think of anything else but to call them a villain," Sgt. Ferguson said.

Local 12 spoke with a visually impaired woman who said she's always aware of her surroundings and she doesn't want people to allow their fear to control them.

Some residents questioned whether police were patrolling enough. Sgt. Ferguson said the department will hire a few new officers so more officers will be on the street. They're also working to hire unpaid auxiliary officers.
 
Kim Mceachirn carries an alarm that he can activate if he's in trouble.
He's hoping tonight's meeting will make everyone safer.
 
"We needed to air out some of our opinions on this. Allay some of our fears. Address some of our fears."

Sgt. Ferguson said a person of interest has been identified in the robbery of the blind woman.

Anyone with information about it can call Crime Stoppers at 352-3040.




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