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Combating violence in Mahoning Valley



Published: Thu, February 1, 2007 @ 12:00 a.m.



ACTION is working on an anonymous tips format for reporting crimes.

By AMANDA GARRETT

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- In the wake of Monday's quadruple slaying, community leaders, ministers and others from around the Mahoning Valley came together to look at ways to combat crime and blight.

"It's time for a ceasefire," said the Rev. Michael Harrison at an Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing our Neighborhoods rally at Union Baptist Church on Wednesday evening. "It's time for 95 percent of the community to stop living in fear because of 5 percent of the community."

Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams, city Police Chief Jimmy Hughes, Mahoning County Sheriff Randall Wellington, Struthers Mayor Daniel Mamula and Campbell Mayor John Dill spoke of the need for cooperation to make the Mahoning Valley a better place to live.

Goals

Harrison began the rally by listing ACTION's five goals for combating violence in Youngstown:

To move Youngstown off the list of top 10 most dangerous cities in America. The city is currently No. 9.

Reduce crime in targeted areas. The first three areas ACTION is targeting are the McGuffey Road area on the East Side, the Glenwood Avenue and Earle Avenue area and Lucius Avenue between Auburndale Avenue and Avondale Avenue on the South Side.

Supporting neighborhood block watches.

Holding public officials accountable for addressing issue of community safety.

Reducing the number of homicides in the Mahoning Valley.

ACTION also is distributing hundreds of postcards that will allow area residents to anonymously report crimes. Residents can mail the postcards, and ACTION will deliver them to police. The postcards eliminate the fear of retaliation that keeps many people from reporting crime, the Rev. Mr. Harrison said.

Williams and Hughes informed the crowd about the city's 30-day, zero-tolerance policy toward crime.

Effective immediately, police will pull over vehicles for infractions such as failing to stop at a red light, Williams said.

The plan is to reduce crime and put criminals on notice that they won't be able to get away with illegal behavior.

"The majority of our gun and drug arrests come from people being pulled over," Williams said. "There is a good chance that before these criminals went to kill these people they committed a few traffic infractions on the way."

Williams said the zero-tolerance policy will be evaluated after 30 days.

Mamula said it is time for the Mahoning Valley communities to work together for change.

"If it happens to one of us it affects all of us," he said. "We're one big community. We have to start thinking that way and acting that way."

ACTION's rally was planned before the slayings of Anthony Crockett, Christopher Howard, Marvin Boone and Danielle Parker at a West Evergreen Avenue home Monday night, but the homicides gave the rally extra urgency, Mr. Harrison said.

The killings have not been solved, but police are following several leads, Hughes said.

Mr. Harrison said the cooperation exhibited at the ACTION rally is the key to making the Youngstown area a good place to live.

"We can't lay the blame at the feet of public officials," he said. "It's time for all of us to work together to change our communities."

agarrett@vindy.com




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