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Can I Get A Debt Consolidation Loan With Bad Credit? – Forbes Advisor

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Debt consolidation loans let borrowers take out a single loan that covers the outstanding balance on some or all of their unsecured loans. The consolidation loan is then used to pay off each of the individual loans so the borrower is only responsible for a single monthly debt payment. This results in a more streamlined repayment process and can give the borrower access to a lower overall interest rate.

When evaluating loan applications, lenders generally look for a credit score between 580 and 620. However, lenders also consider factors like the applicant’s ability to repay the loan. Qualifying for a debt consolidation loan can be more difficult if you have bad credit but it’s still possible—especially if you’re open to getting a secured loan or having a co-signer.

What Is a Debt Consolidation Loan?

A debt consolidation loan is a type of personal or business loan that enables borrowers to take out a loan for a period of two to seven years. Borrowers can use these loans to pay off multiple individual loans—thus, consolidating them into a single loan with only one monthly payment. Consolidation loan interest rates range from 5% to 36% so, depending on their creditworthiness, a borrower may also be able to lower their overall interest payment. But if you only qualify for an interest rate on the high end of the range, getting a consolidation loan may not lead to any savings.

Types of Debt To Consolidate

In general, a borrower can consolidate loans or credit lines that are not secured by a home or otherwise collateralized. Common types of debt to consolidate include but are not limited to:

  • Credit card balances
  • Student loans
  • Unsecured personal loans and personal lines of credit
  • Payday loans
  • Income taxes
  • Hospital and other medical bills
  • Cell phone and utility bills
  • Court judgments, not currently under enforcement through garnishment or other collection remedies

How to Get a Debt Consolidation Loan

If you think a debt consolidation loan is a good fit for you, follow these steps:

1. Determine Your Credit Score

Before you apply for a debt consolidation loan, check your credit score on a free site or with a reporting service through your credit card company. Lenders generally look for a credit score between 580 and 620 when extending consolidation loans, so it’s best to know your score before you apply—especially if you have a weak credit history.

2. Boost Your Credit Score

For those with a poor credit score, boosting your credit can improve your chances of qualifying for a debt consolidation loan. However, mending credit can be a long, difficult and sometimes confusing process. To increase your credit score in the short term, focus on paying your bills on time, keeping current accounts open and limiting hard inquiries on your credit report. You can also dispute any inaccurate information on your credit report or use a tool like Experian Boost to get credit for utility and cell phone payments.

Keep in mind, though, that Experian Boost only impacts your FICO Score 8, and while that scoring model is the most widely used, some lenders might use a different score type or model to extend you a consolidation loan. So Experian Boost might not help in all circumstances.

3. Shop for Lenders and Get Pre-qualified

Once you know your credit score, start shopping for a lender. If you have an existing relationship with a local bank or credit union, start there; but keep in mind that they may have more rigorous qualifications. Then, research online lenders and compare factors like interest rates, loan terms and lender fees.

When reviewing your application for a debt consolidation loan, a lender will run a hard credit check that can negatively impact your credit score. However, lenders can pre-qualify you for a loan by running a soft credit check, which will not show up on your credit report.

If you’re afraid your credit score is too low to get approved for a consolidation loan, consider getting pre-qualified by several lenders. This can help you determine the likelihood of getting approved for a loan. Then you can compare interest rates and other terms to choose the best debt consolidation loan—and lender—for you.

4. Choose a Secured Loan

If a borrower isn’t happy with the options available following the pre-qualification process, they may increase their chances of qualifying for a consolidation loan by applying for a secured loan. Secured loans often come with lower interest rates and may be easier to obtain because they are collateralized by the borrower’s home or other valuable assets like investments. However, if your score is high enough to qualify for an unsecured loan, it’s best not to pledge collateral unless you’re confident in your ability to make on-time payments. If you fall behind on payments, you could lose the asset you’ve used as collateral.

5. Find a Co-signer

Likewise, loan applicants with poor credit can access better lending terms by having someone with strong credit co-sign on the loan. This means that if the borrower fails to make payments on the consolidation loan, the co-signer will be on the hook for the outstanding balance. In general, lenders look for co-signers who have good or excellent credit scores and who have enough income to cover payments on the co-signed loan and their own debt service.

Qualifying for a Debt Consolidation Loan with Bad Credit

If you can’t qualify for a debt consolidation loan because of your credit score, consider strengthening your application by improving your debt-to-income ratio. This can be done by increasing your income—with a side hustle or otherwise—or by paying off some of your smaller, more manageable debts.

Secured loans may also be more accessible to applicants with bad credit because they reduce the lender’s risk and often come with lower interest rates. Those without home equity or other valuable collateral may be better served by having someone with better credit co-sign on the consolidation loan. If a secured loan or co-signer is not possible, borrowers with bad credit can focus their energies on do-it-yourself debt repayment using the debt snowball or debt avalanche methods.

Where to Get a Debt Consolidation Loan for Bad Credit

Debt consolidation loans are available from a number of traditional and online lenders. Traditional lenders like credit unions and banks generally offer lower interest rates. Online lenders, in contrast, provide borrowers access to faster closing times and lower qualification requirements, making them ideal for those with bad credit. However, these loans typically come with higher interest rates so it’s important to shop around.

Who a Debt Consolidation Loan Is Right For

Getting a debt consolidation loan is a great way for some people to simplify their monthly payments and reduce overall interest charges. However, for borrowers with poor credit, inconsistent income or poor spending habits, a debt consolidation loan may not be the best solution.

Debt consolidation might be right for you if:

  • Your credit score is high enough to qualify for a low-interest loan
  • You have enough home equity to utilize your house as collateral for a secured loan
  • Your monthly debt service totals 40% or less of your monthly income
  • You are already taking steps to improve your finances and reduce spending
  • Your monthly cash flow consistently exceeds your monthly debt payments

How to Eliminate Debt with a Consolidation Loan

Debt consolidation loans can help borrowers eliminate debt by streamlining payments and—in some cases—reducing interest rates. However, to effectively eliminate your debt with a debt consolidation loan you must also take steps to improve your finances and pay down the consolidated loan.

This may include making and sticking to a budget so you consistently spend less than you earn. Borrowers who are trying to eliminate debt with a consolidation loan should also stop adding to their debt by pausing their credit card use and keeping monthly balances low.

Finally, debt consolidation loans are most effective when the borrower maintains open communication with the lender—so if you’re struggling to make payments, let your lender know as soon as you can.

Debt Consolidation Loan Costs

Debt consolidation loans typically come with an interest rate between 5% and 36% that varies based on the applicant’s creditworthiness, income and debt-to-income ratio. Depending on your outstanding loans, a debt consolidation loan may have a lower interest rate than you’re currently paying—but it may be higher if you have a low credit score.

In addition to paying interest, borrowers may encounter annual lender fees as well as costs associated with loan origination, balance transfers and closing. Additional costs of a debt consolidation loan may include:

  • Loan origination fees
  • Balance transfer fees between 3% and 5% of the total balance
  • Closing costs
  • Annual fees

Pros and Cons of Debt Consolidation Loans

The pros of debt consolidation loans are:

  • Reduce multiple debts to one monthly payment
  • Lower overall interest rate
  • Improve your credit with on-time payments
  • Lower total monthly payment by increasing the loan term
  • Can shorten the amount of time it takes to pay off certain types of debt, like credit cards

The cons of debt consolidation loans are:

  • Depending on the lender, you may have to cover high upfront and/or annual fees
  • If you have a low credit score, it may be difficult to get a low interest rate
  • Consolidation alone doesn’t fix poor financial habits and is not a guaranteed way to get out of debt

Alternatives to Debt Consolidation Loans

If you have a low credit score, it can be difficult to qualify for consolidation loan terms that meet your needs. If you’re struggling to find acceptable loan terms, consider these alternative approaches to debt consolidation:

  • Debt management plan. A debt management plan lets borrowers consolidate credit card balances into a single debt—much like a consolidation loan. These plans usually span three to five years and are offered by credit counseling agencies.
  • Home equity loan. A home equity loan is a second mortgage paid out in a lump sum that can let a homeowner consolidate their other debts. This can be a good consolidation alternative for borrowers with at least 15% to 20% equity in their home.
  • DIY debt payoff options. Borrowers with low credit scores may not have many debt consolidation options and it may become necessary to pay off their debts without a consolidation loan. There are several ways to wipe out debt on your own but the debt snowball and debt avalanche methods are the most popular.
Forbes adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. To the best of our knowledge, all content is accurate as of the date posted, though offers contained herein may no longer be available. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone and have not been provided, approved, or otherwise endorsed by our partners.

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How to Increase Your Credit Limit

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Applying for a new credit card might seem like the perfect solution when you want to manage your spending in a way that works for you.

Be it an intro 0% APR that you’re after, or just more generous rewards on purchases, credit cards let you buy now and pay later, helping you take control of big projects like home renovations and even everyday spending.

As convenient as credit cards are, however, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be approved for the credit limit you want. It can be a let down to submit an application only to receive a credit limit that’s lower than your expectations, and worse — it can put your goals up in the air.

On average, consumers who open a store card may only receive a limit between $2,000 to $2,500, and it can be below $1,000 in some cases, according to Equifax’s Credit Trends report. The average credit limit for general-use cards was higher, averaging between $5,000 to $6,000, but that can still be low for your needs.

Creditors look at a host of factors when deciding your limit, including their assessment of your credit risk, your income level, your credit score and issues they see on your credit report such as high revolving credit card balances, recent inquiries or large loan amounts.

But they take into account a few completely independent factors, too, like how well the economy is doing at the time you applied. There’s no way to predict exactly how much you can expect to be approved for.

It can be disappointing to get a low credit limit, but you’re not entirely without options. After a few months, consider asking for a credit limit increase on your new card, or you can request a higher limit on a card you’ve had for a while.

Here’s a breakdown on how credit limit increases work and how you can request one.

How credit limit increases work

How to ask for a credit limit increase

When you’re ready to ask for a credit limit increase, you’ll have the option of completing the request online or over the phone. You can submit the request via your card issuer’s mobile app or by logging into your online account.

Another option is to call customer service and ask for an increase. This option gives your request a personal touch and allows you to explain your reasoning why you need a larger credit limit and give reassurance that you can repay it. Discussing a recent raise or a longstanding, positive relationship can help strengthen your chances of getting an increase.

Requesting a credit limit increase may ding your credit score a few points if the card issuer pulls your credit report. It’s key to check the online form or ask the rep if your credit report will be reviewed.

Before starting your request, gather this information:

  • Annual income
  • Employment status
  • Monthly housing payments (rent or mortgage)
  • Desired new credit limit, which some issuers let you input during the request

You can typically expect to receive an instant decision on whether your credit limit increase is approved or denied.

If your request was denied, you may need to wait up to six months to try again. While you wait, aim to raise your credit score through on-time payments and boost your income, so you can strengthen the chance you get approved next time. You can also improve your credit score through free services like Experian Boost™, which allows you to get credit for on-time phone, utility and streaming service payments.

Experian Boost™

On Experian’s secure site

  • Cost

  • Average credit score increase

    13 points, though results vary

  • Credit report affected

  • Credit scoring model used

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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How to Buy a House With Bad Credit: Guide for 2021

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Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we receive compensation from our partner lenders, whom we will always identify, all opinions are our own. Credible Operations, Inc. NMLS # 1681276, is referred to here as “Credible.”

Having bad credit makes it harder to get a mortgage. A low credit score makes you look riskier to lenders; it suggests you might be financially unstable or unwilling to repay your debts.

A poor score, however, can also simply be the result of not knowing how the scoring process works or having gone through a brief rough patch that required you to take on debt.

If you think you’re ready for homeownership despite your bad credit, here’s what you need to know:

What counts as a bad credit score?

How do you know if your credit is bad? Once you know your score, see where it falls in the ranges below:

  • Poor (less than 640): Lenders consider borrowers in this credit score range to be high risk. Having poor credit means you probably won’t qualify for a conventional mortgage, but you might be able to get a government-backed home loan.
  • Fair (640 to 699): Lenders see borrowers in this credit score range as less risky. You might have less debt or a stronger payment history than borrowers with poor credit. You can qualify for a conventional mortgage with fair credit, but you might need to be stronger in other areas to make up for it, and you could be saddled with a higher mortgage rate.
  • Good (700 to 749): With good credit, you’ll have a much easier time qualifying for a mortgage and getting a low interest rate. You’ll probably secure offers from more than one lender.
  • Excellent (750 and above): An excellent credit score demonstrates your ability to manage debt. You consistently make your payments on time and don’t use too much of your available credit. Combined with a steady income, you’ll qualify for a mortgage from multiple lenders and have the luxury of choosing the least expensive option.

While potential borrowers with poor credit will find it challenging to get a home loan, it can be done. You just need to learn about the options available and how lenders will look at your application.

Find Out: 800 Credit Score Mortgage Rate: What Kind of Rates Can You Get?

Credit score needed to get a mortgage

While your credit score is an important factor in your home loan eligibility, it’s not the only one. Here’s what else lenders care about:

  • Down payment: Depending on the loan and the lender, you’ll need a minimum of 0% to 5% down.
  • Debt-to-income ratio: Typically, you want a debt-to-income ratio of 36% or less when applying for a mortgage. In most instances, it can’t total more than 45% to 50% of your income.
  • Cash reserves: You might need up to six months’ worth of mortgage payments in the bank with a low credit score and/or low down payment.

Minimum credit score by loan type

Loan type
Description
Min. credit score
ConventionalA home loan not insured by the federal government620
FHAGovernment-insured mortgage for borrowers with low credit scores580
(with 3.5% down; 500 with 10% down)
VAGovernment-backed mortgage for military service members (including qualified reservists) who meet length and character of service requirements, and their unmarried surviving spousesNone
(though individual lenders might impose limits)
USDAGovernment-insured home loan for low- and very-low-income applicants in eligible rural areasNone

What having bad credit means for your mortgage rate

The lower your credit score, the higher your mortgage rate, all else being equal. If you have poor credit, expect to pay at least 1.5% more than someone with excellent credit.

The result will be a higher monthly mortgage payment and a higher long-term borrowing cost.

Assuming you’re able to secure a loan with bad credit, you won’t necessarily be stuck with the same rate forever. It might be possible to refinance to a better rate after improving your credit score.

Keep in mind: You’ll have to pay closing costs when you refinance, and if market rates increase, having a higher score might not actually translate to a lower rate.

It’s safer to only take on a mortgage now if you feel confident you can afford it long term, even if you hope to refinance or sell your home in a few years.

Learn More: What Is a Mortgage Rate and How Do They Work?

How to get a mortgage with bad credit

You might already be able to get a mortgage despite your bad credit. For example, if your score is at least 580, you can put down just 3.5% and get an FHA loan.

However, working to improve your score and other aspects of your finances gives you more options and can save you money. Follow the steps below to increase your chances of getting a mortgage:

1. Keep an eye on your credit

It’s never been easier to get a free copy of your credit report. You can receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Tip: Some sites make it look like you need to pay for your report. You don’t. The three national credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — are required by federal law to provide you with a free annual credit report.

Analyze your reports to make sure all the information is accurate. If you find a mistake that could be weighing down your score, dispute it with the credit bureau or with the company that reported the incorrect data.

Check your score weekly as well. This allows you to see how your financial activity is affecting your score. If it’s moving in the wrong direction, frequent checks will help you take quick corrective action.

2. Pay your bills on time

Payment history is the most important factor that determines your credit score, making up about 35% of it.

Make sure all your credit card, auto loan, and other debt payments post to your account by the due date to boost this part of your score.

3. Work on paying down debt

How much you owe makes up 30% of your credit score. Specifically, your credit score evaluates your balance relative to your available credit, often referred to as your credit utilization ratio. The lower that ratio, the better.

For example, your score will look better if your balance on a $5,000 credit line is $500 (10% utilization) instead of $2,500 (50% utilization).

If you rack up a high credit card balance one month, try to pay it down before your next statement is issued to keep your credit utilization down on your credit report.

Tip: If you’re looking to improve your credit score, it’s important that you use at least some of your available credit. Low credit utilization impacts your score more positively than 0% utilization.

4. Stay away from hard credit inquiries

Applying for a loan or credit card will usually ding your credit score if the creditor conducts a hard credit inquiry.

Credible lets prospective homebuyers shop for rates without impacting their credit scores. We’ll show you actual, prequalified rates from our partner lenders — our process is secure and simple, and it only takes a few minutes to complete.

Credible makes getting a mortgage easy

  • Instant streamlined pre-approval: It only takes 3 minutes to see if you qualify for an instant streamlined pre-approval letter, without affecting your credit.
  • We keep your data private: Compare rates from multiple lenders without your data being sold or getting spammed.
  • A modern approach to mortgages: Complete your mortgage online with bank integrations and automatic updates. Talk to a loan officer only if you want to.

Find Rates Now

Opening a new account — or closing an old one — will also decrease the average age of your accounts, a factor that accounts for 15% of your credit score.

There are situations, however, where the benefit of applying for new credit might outweigh the impact on your credit score.

One example of this is transferring high-interest debt to a lower-interest card, which could help you pay down debt faster.

5. Consider a rapid rescore

If you’re in a hurry to boost your credit score, a rapid rescore might help. Normally, your credit report and score get updated each billing cycle.

This means that after you pay down a credit card balance, for example, your new credit utilization rate might not be reflected in your score for up to a month.

Rapid rescoring can speed up the change to your credit score. Your lender might recommend it if you’re close to having a good enough score to qualify for a loan or better rate.

Tip: Only your lender can request a rapid rescore; you can’t do it yourself.

Keep Reading: Credit Score Needed to Get a Home Loan

6. Save up for a larger down payment

A larger down payment gives you more skin in the game, which makes you look less risky to lenders. It also means you won’t need to borrow as much.

If your income is too high to qualify for other low-credit-score conventional loan programs such as Fannie Mae’s HomeReady, you may still qualify for a conventional loan with a credit score of 620. You’ll need to put 25% down and your debt-to-income ratio must be 36% or less.

In this case, you won’t have to pay for private mortgage insurance. Your monthly mortgage payment will be smaller and your long-term interest expense will be lower. So, while you’ll pay more up front, you’ll pay less each month and over time.

7. Bring on a co-signer

A co-signer whose credit is better than yours could help you get approved for a mortgage or lower interest rate.

However, they will be taking on a huge responsibility: the obligation to pay your mortgage payments if you default. If they can’t, their credit score will be impacted.

In other words, a co-signer must put their savings and their credit reputation at risk to help you. That’s a big ask.

8. Consider a loan type with less stringent credit requirements

As we’ve noted, FHA loans have low credit score requirements. VA loans and USDA loans technically don’t have a minimum credit score requirement. However, these two loan types do have stricter eligibility requirements:

  • VA loans: Only available to military service members who meet length and character of service requirements, and their unmarried surviving spouses
  • USDA loans: Only available to low- and very-low-income applicants in eligible rural areas

9. Shop around to find the best offer

Even with poor credit, you should shop around to find a great mortgage rate. With Credible, you can check prequalified rates from multiple lenders for free, all on one platform.

You might be eligible for better rates than you think. And if you’re not, you now know the steps to get your score into better shape.

Get started today by checking out the table below, and see what rates you prequalify for from our partner lenders.

About the author

Amy Fontinelle

Amy Fontinelle

Amy Fontinelle is a mortgage and credit card authority and a contributor to Credible. Her work has appeared in Forbes Advisor, The Motley Fool, Investopedia, International Business Times, MassMutual, and more.

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More accountability among council proposals for Akron police

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Akron City Council wants more resources for the city’s only independent police auditor and more public access to police records, from use of force reports to citizen complaints and logs that track the race of everyone stopped by police.

Those are among the recommendations to be released publicly on Monday by council’s special committee on Reimagining Public Safety. Members are trying to answer a community call for a police force that better reflects the demographics and lived experiences those it serves and protects following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota last year.

There would be no age limit for police cadets, which the city recently upped from 35 to 40 years. A new “Pathway to Law Enforcement” would ask community and education leaders to steer young adults into careers with the city and the Akron Police Department.

More so than they do now, social workers would help police handle 911 calls involving mental health and addiction. Officers would spend more time walking or biking their beats in an effort to build trust and understanding with the neighborhoods they police.

And council would keep up with the latest in law enforcement technology as city police deploy drones or consider feeding camera footage into crime-solving software that can scan faces and license plates, which would prompt leaders to weigh public safety against personal privacy.

Council President Margo Sommerville will present the full list of recommendations and special committee findings during council’s regular public meeting Monday. The 22-page document is the culmination of 22 subcommittee meetings, each averaging about an hour.

But the report is not the end of the road to “Reimagining Public Safety,” Sommerville explained. The end goal is “more equitable” policing systems and stronger bonds between police and the policed.

As he searches for a new police chief, Mayor Dan Horrigan and his deputy mayor for Public Safety, Charles Brown, express agreement with council in recognizing the best elements of policing in Akron while considering improvements outlined in the listed recommendations.

Next, Sommerville said council will take its newfound knowledge of policing in Akron to the public and rank-and-file officers.

University of Akron President Gary L. Miller said he’s honored and excited that council has asked his faculty and students to develop a community engagement process of surveys and virtual town hall meetings. The information gathering process will solicit feedback from residents, officers and the police union, which as an organization was not given an opportunity to address council’s special committee.

“We know at the end of the day, when we really begin to finalize these recommendations, we’re going to need the Fraternal Order of Police (Lodge #7),” Sommerville said, pinning successful implementation of any reform or enhancement on the commitment of everyone impacted.

FOP President Clay Cozart will see the recommendations Monday. While continuing to disagree with the prominence given to police reform in the wake of Floyd’s death, Cozart said he’s watched every minute of the 22 meetings discussing the work of his members, and he appreciates Sommerville’s willingness to work with the union.

Informed by Akron police officers serving as “liaisons,” the special committee involving every member of council broke out into four working groups.

Police oversight

The Accountability and Transparency group, which met seven times, delved into issues of external oversight, officer discipline and public access to records, drawing on the expertise of police auditors, civilian review board members and national experts on the subject from coast to coast.

Background: Who polices Akron police? Auditor says his office is understaffed, under-resourced

“In our society, we entrust police with the critical responsibility of protecting public safety, including by using force, if necessary,” the working group concluded. “External oversight recognizes that the seriousness of this delegated power requires particular scrutiny in order to ensure that the rights of the public are protected. On both a national and local level, historic injustices have created a trust deficit in how the public, particularly communities of color, interact with law enforcement, and government more broadly. Community trust is essential for effective policing.”

The group settled on two formal recommendations:

  1. Give Akron Police Auditor Phil Young, who answers to the mayor, a role codified in city law with “sufficient authority to access information, adequate staffing and funding and independence from the political process.”
  2. Ensure “that more police data and information is made publicly-available online and updated on a regular basis.”

Prevention

The prevention working group discussed community policing and best practices around responding to mental health, addiction and other 911 calls that can end tragically for officers and citizens.

While identifying funding as the greatest barrier to more robust training, the group recommended that every officer undergo Crisis Intervention Team training. Currently, 76% of officers lack the 40-hour training.

More: Akron’s police chief to retire in 2021

To “help solidify stronger relationships between police officers and the communities they diligently patrol and serve,” the group also recommended more walking and biking for beat cops, something previous councils and mayors have tried to achieve.

The final recommendation recommended a shifting, or at least sharing, of the burden of solving society’s problems, which armed officers encounter daily.

There’s some appetite for the concept, even among officers. Police1, an online source of information and resources for law enforcement, surveyed 4,000 American officers for a special report called “What Cops Want in 2021.” Officers named serving their community as the top reason for becoming officers. They also ranked the types of 911 calls they’d rather see other agencies handle: housing for homeless people (93%), animal control (88%), nuisance abatement (64%), parking enforcement (61%) and dispute mediation (53%), responding to mental health crises (45%) and drug overdoses (29%).

“Throughout our working group meetings, there was a continuing discussion of whether it may be appropriate for social service agencies to respond to some 911 calls relating to mental health or other issues, the idea being that a social service-focused approach might be more effective in some cases, and could also free up APD to focus on issues that clearly need a police response,” the group concluded. “Our APD liaisons made clear that they believe there should be a police response to all calls, as situations are fluid and could endanger non-police responders.”

We also heard from the Police Chief in Alexandria, Kentucky, a small city south of Cincinnati, who described a program in which the department employs two social workers, who follow up on calls (and in some cases respond to calls where the scene is deemed safe).”

The group heard from a Kentucky police chief who sends social workers out on many calls, sometimes without an armed officer. They said Akron, as a community, should involve more social service providers on 911 calls, when “appropriate,” and expand programs where counselors and health professionals follow-up after the fact.

Personnel and culture

A third committee tackled hiring and staffing as commanders must take officers from their patrols to fill specialized units like Neighborhood Response Teams — the backbone of community policing in Akron — or Quick Response Teams that respond to overdoses.

The group recommended more ongoing training and identified potential problems with hiring like not testing for steroids in the screening process because it costs twice as much or disqualifying applicants because they have or lie about a history of bad credit or minor drug offenses.

Background: Akron police force struggles to reflect city’s diversity

To get a more diverse and broader pool of candidates, the group recommended abolishing the current 40-year maximum age for cadets, as other large cities have done.

They also recommended bringing back an Akron Urban League program that prepared candidates for the city’s civil service exam and the creation of a Pathway to Law Enforcement program.

The Pathway program would use neighborhood “figureheads” and public educators to recruit 18 year olds and hold their interest in becoming cops until they turn 21 and are allowed by state law to carry a firearm as a civil servant. For a couple years, they would get city jobs dealing with the public while earning criminal justice credentials through UA or Stark State.

The group added two suggestions: APD should update its mission statement “to include the need for a workforce that reflects community and the need for diversity” and bring in an outside group that would take confidential and “unvarnished opinions” of officers “that could provide constructive feedback for further institutional change.”

Technology and equipment

No formal recommendations, aside from getting a body-worn camera for every officer who interacts with the public, came out of the technology and equipment committee.

More: Akron is ‘Reimagining Public Safety’ with drones, diversity and license plate readers

This last group learned about policing gadgets and systems like unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), “less-lethal” weapons (tear gas, pepper spray, tasers) surplus military rifles and body-worn cameras.

City information technologists informed them of existing software that allows detectives to stake out drug houses or solve crimes by accessing 277 cameras mounted around the city on buildings, lights and traffic poles. The footage is recorded 24/7 and kept for 21 days. And they discussed emergent technology like Briefcam, a program of computer algorithms that scans faces and reads license plates then automatically generates turn-by-turn video of stolen cars or suspects.

“Going forward, it will be important to gauge public opinion about how cameras in public spaces should be used,” the committee cautioned. “With Ring doorbells and other consumer camera systems becoming ubiquitous, it may be that the public is willing to accept greater surveillance by police within public spaces. Still, there should be transparency and clear rules on what is and is not permitted.”

Reach reporter Doug Livingston at dlivingston@thebeaconjournal.co or 330-719-1756

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