WARREN Chief lays down the law at hot spot

One neighbor said he is harassed every time he goes outside.
WARREN -- It's often a 911 call that brings police to Mercer Avenue N.E., but this time police came without being called to warn residents to follow the law or face arrest.
Police Chief John Mandopoulos, numerous officers and health department officials visited the neighborhood Thursday afternoon to enforce housing regulations and to talk to neighbors about ongoing disputes.
"We've had enough," Mandopoulos said. "We are out here to tell people that if they break the law they are going to be arrested. We have had numerous calls here every night about fights. This has to stop."
James Hake, who lives at 645 Mercer, said he was struck in the back of the head Tuesday with a baseball bat by a juvenile neighbor. He said even though the juvenile was arrested the problems have not stopped.
"Every time I come outside with my children we get harassed," Hake said. "As soon as the weather got nice the problems started."
Several neighbors who gathered on Hake's porch Thursday agreed with him saying the don't believe the harassment will stop anytime soon.
Hake said most of his problems are with one family, but Mandopoulos said there have been other complaints in the neighborhood.
"There are senior citizens that don't feel safe to live here and that is not right," Mandopoulos said. "I am not going to tolerate this."
Mandopoulos spent time Thursday talking to the residents and warning juveniles about the law. The chief arrested one boy on a charge of disorderly conduct after the teen-ager became belligerent.
"We will make arrests if people don't want to follow the law. Period," the chief said.
Health violations: Robert Pinti, the city's deputy health commissioner, was also on-site with sanitarians and a property maintenance code inspector, checking conditions of residences in the neighborhood.
He said a few houses were inspected and turned up a host of violations, including unsuitable plumbing and electrical systems, and in general, squalid conditions.
He also said he was unable to get into the basement of one home because clothes were piled everywhere.
Property owners cited Thursday will have a week or so to make improvements, Pinti said, and police, fire and health officials are serious about cracking down.
"We'll be back," he said. "We have to show these people we're not going to put up with this."
The problem is not isolated to Mercer Avenue, Pinti said, as there are dilapidated homes in other neighborhoods as well.
"We will be visiting other neighborhoods too," the police chief said. "I want residents to feel safe in their homes."

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