Staying out of jail until formal charges are filed creates problems, police chief said.
WARREN -- The early release from the Trumbull County jail of inmates facing drug and criminal trespass charges is causing crime and safety concerns at housing authority properties.
David Ovesny, security chief for the Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority, told TMHA board members in two "security reports" for February and March about the problem and what is being done about it. Ovesny is also Vienna police chief.
Trumbull County does not want to release violent criminals from its jail but it has reduced its bed space there from 286 to 188. The reductions are in response to staff layoffs caused by a budget shortfall this year.
"The drug policy and early release of misdemeanor inmates from the county jail is significantly impacting TMHA's crime prevention strategies and the safety of our developments," Ovesny wrote.
He said drug offenders are routinely released until the confiscated drugs are tested at a laboratory, and formal charges are filed.
"This policy seriously hampers effective enforcement of the lease and criminal trespass policy because the suspects have no formal charges brought against them for up to eight to 12 weeks," Ovesny continued.
"These offenders are now routinely given a summons into the court of jurisdiction and they rarely receive jail time due to the closing of the jail to misdemeanor offenders. Ultimately, this will lead to more violence and property crimes in and around TMHA properties."
Ovesny said he'll be researching whether the Department of Justice or Department of Housing and Urban Development have any programs or grants that could help prevent crime.
The sheriff's department notified TMHA that it was suspending all investigative services effective Feb. 21. All pending investigative case information is being forwarded to the Warren Police Department.
Crimes committed at TMHA properties or worksites in March included:
UAggravated robbery March 9 at 498 Arnold Drive S.W. A man was beaten and robbed by a group of men, who fled on foot. Two suspects were apprehended and charged with robbery.
UAggravated murder March 13 in the parking lot of 348 Lane S.W. Ladell V. Smith, 20, was discovered shot in a vehicle. Warren police have charged Jonathan Owens, 22, of Southwest Boulevard, with aggravated murder and arson.
UBurglaries March 18, 21, and 22 at the YouthBuild work site.
The security reports for February and March show there were 54 calls for police, 21 referrals to Warren police, 20 misdemeanor arrests, nine drug complaints to a TMHA tip line, five felony arrests, four criminal trespass warnings and one criminal trespass arrest.
TMHA officials have discussed counter-measure strategies and asked for assistance from Trumbull County Adult Probation, state State Parole Authority and the U.S. Marshals Service.
They will discuss a fugitive task force in Trumbull County. This would target fugitives or parolees/probationers who are engaging in activities that violate terms of their release.
"This strategy should result in the immediate revocation of their parole/probation and their immediate custody and incarceration, effectively bypassing the local county jail restrictions," Ovesny told the board.
Additionally, efforts to establish a Weed and Seed designation for Warren, and a subsequent federal grant application, are under consideration to address the rise in crime "due to workforce reductions of police and corrections officers in Trumbull and Mahoning counties," Ovesny said.
Other options may be the development of a Project Safe Neighborhood or Safe Communities Project plan, which would require community partnerships and regional problem-solving approaches.