Law enforcement leaders on Thursday touted a combined effort between Toledo’s fire and police departments to investigate arson fires, and recognized the tragic reason behind the collaboration.
The Fire Investigative Unit, which consists of firefighters and police investigators, has handled a significant increase in the number of arson-related charges and convictions over the past few years, officials said.
The unit revamped its approach after fire Pvts. Stephen Machcinski and James “Jamie” Dickman died while fighting an intentionally set fire on Magnolia Street in 2014. The fourth anniversary of their deaths is Jan. 26, officials said during a news conference at the fire department’s headquarters.
In 2015, five people were charged with and convicted of arson-related offenses in Toledo. In 2016, 27 people were charged, with 25 convicted, one found not competent, and one case still pending.
Last year, 41 people were charged in Toledo with arson-related offenses. Twenty-six were convicted, one was referred to a psychiatric evaluation, and 14 cases are still pending, officials said.
Image: Toledo Blade