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YOUNGSTOWN New police chief promotes a zero-tolerance approach



Published: Fri, May 3, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Traffic enforcement will be enhanced and computers installed in police cars.

By PETER H. MILLIKEN

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Police Chief Robert Bush says a zero-tolerance approach will continue under his administration.

Zero tolerance is not about "breaking heads," he said. Based on the New York City model, it is an enforcement approach that targets everything from "loitering to littering," he said.

In one of his first public addresses since he was named police chief April 13 by Mayor George McKelvey, Bush spoke Thursday evening at the Law Day observance of Buckeye Elks Lodge 73.

Drugs and gangs are responsible for a significant portion of the overall crime problem, he said. "The scourge of our community and this society is drugs," he said.

Bush favors focusing on street-corner drug dealers because it is they who are responsible for purse-snatchings, thefts and burglaries in the neighborhoods where they operate.

The police department uses a two-pronged approach because it has two anti-drug units, one targeted against street-level activity and another against midlevel dealers, he said.

Traffic unit

Bush said he will reinstate a traffic unit in the middle of this month, including inauguration of an afternoon traffic unit and purchase of laser units, which are more accurate against speeders than radar.

To help make traffic stops safer for police, he said he will experimentally install computer terminals in two cruisers so police will instantly receive information on the status of any vehicle they stop and its owner.

Bush said he is more than honored to be police chief and doubly honored to be the city's first black police chief, but he said, "I'll be the chief of police for all of our citizens ... and those passing through."

Concerning black-on-black crime, including the city's high homicide rate, he said he is saddened to observe that "our prisons and jails are primarily full of young African-American males. Our cemeteries are full of young African-American males."

Personal tragedies

Bush said he was personally touched by tragedy when his nephew died after being shot seven times in his bed in Brier Hill. "The crime was never solved, and it still pains me today," he said.

The victim's older brother is now serving more than 40 years in prison for a homicide, Bush added. "I've been on both sides of the issue, and that also pains me," he said.

Tragically, there is very little police can do to turn young people around when they stray down the wrong path, he said.

Although police are engaged in drug abuse prevention education, crime prevention and crisis intervention, their primary job is law enforcement and most of what they do is reactive, he noted.

"We react to over 100,000 calls a year,'' he said.




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