facebooktwitterRSS
- Advertisement -
  • Most Commentedmost commented up
  • Most Emailedmost emailed up
  • Popularmost popular up

- Advertisement -
 

« News Home

I-C-U block watch keeps eyes on violent streets



Published: Sun, October 24, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern

aluthern@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

In the dark of the night, Victoria Allen drives where some wouldn’t venture during the day. She patrols the South Side streets of East Lucius, East Philadelphia, East Avondale and East Boston avenues, one hand on her police scanner and the other on the wheel.

She’s always on the lookout for anything suspicious.

During a recent ride, Allen resembled a tour guide as she pointed out places in her neighborhood.

“That house is vacant; that house gets a lot of domestic calls; that house has a bunch of shoes outside on the porch all the time,” Allen said.

Knowing such details has made local block watches, such as ICU (“I See You”) of which Allen is a part, invaluable to Youngstown police, who are working to curb violence, especially after the Sept. 25 shooting death of Thomas Repchic, 74, at East Philadelphia Avenue and Southern Boulevard.

“There are only 155 sworn police officers, but there are 80,000 residents,” said Sgt. Charles Swanson, Youngstown special-projects officer. “We need those 80,000 to be the eyes and ears because we can only be so many places.”

Allen, 38, and a lifelong South Side resident, has earned a reputation of a dedicated and reliable source, often telling emergency dispatchers a number of officers to send. She drives back to her neighborhood during her lunch break from a security company in Boardman. Once she gets home for the night, she makes at least three more rounds.

When asked if she ever thought she would fill this role of neighborhood watchdog and activist, Allen responded “No, never.”

Her breaking point, she said, was the Jan. 23 murder of Angeline Fimognari at St. Dominic Church on East Lucius Avenue.

“It just lit a fire in me,” she said. “Actually, it’s always been burning, but it added more fuel to the fire.”

Allen usually travels past the church every other Saturday, but took another route the day of Fimognari’s death because she was running late. That murder, coupled with a personal interest to protect her three children and brother, led Allen to found the ICU block watch in February.

Although her family provided motivation, one relative had no part in her decision. Allen is related to Lavance Turnage, who was involved in the 1996 shooting of Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains. She said Turnage had “zero” influence on her actions.

The ICU block watch motto is: “The business that goes on in your neighborhood is my business.”

“You just made it everyone’s business with that music playing. You just made it everyone’s business with your kids coming from alleys and throwing paper in my yard,” she said.

Allen admitted that she and her minivan are well-known in the neighborhood, and some groups of people scatter when she approaches.

“Some people don’t like it,” she said. “I’ve gotten a couple of hate stares. Other people have said that I was snitchin’. I have never said anything that I’m not afraid to tell them to their face. If I see you doing wrong, I’ll call.”

Allen and her fellow block watchers do not make light of the danger in their neighborhoods. Block watch treasurer Joe Kirksey said at a recent meeting that he had dubbed the area “Little Beirut,” because of the violence.

A sample of 911 calls from East Lucius Avenue includes reports of suspicious people, a baby crying, gunfire, fights and loose dogs. So far in 2010, there have been 577 calls to the city’s 911 dispatch from Lucius, compared to 590 at this time last year, according to records.

Allen once had a male teenager come to her driveway because he spotted her car. He had a gunshot wound in his neck, and Allen, who only knew his first name, called an ambulance.

“I always put myself first and be safe,” Allen said, adding that she monitors her police scanner for emergency calls and never leaves her car.

The block watch isn’t concerned only with crime. Pit bulls running loose, vacant houses and motorcycle clubs are all topics of conversation at meetings, which are every third Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Metro Assembly of God Church on South Avenue. During these meetings, residents have a direct line to their councilman, John R. Swierz Jr., D-7th, who attends meetings.

“It’s not just about crime,” Swierz said. “They are an informational source, and very often times it’s through their help and assistance that we can effectively shut down a place serving minors, for example. They have the information because they see it on a daily basis.”

Even though Allen didn’t foresee herself knowing police codes and patrolling her neighborhood, officials recognize the importance of what she and many other block watches do every day – and night.

“Their tips are very reliable,” Swanson said. “Victoria is very dedicated and cares very much. It seems like there’s no stopping her.”

For Allen, the situation is simple.

“If we don’t do it, no one will,” she said. “And I refuse to lose.”


Comments

1ytownoh330(14 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

god bless her, we need more people like her and it would run the trash out of her!

Suggest removal:

2Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

Great comment censoredship

Suggest removal:

3UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

The National Guard, not this poor lady, should be patrolling those streets. This is an urban gangsta war and should be treated as such. A nice caring lady with a police scanner and cell phone will do little to stop the urban gangsta war. Until Mayor Jay & Council decide more police is their top priority, nothing will change.

Suggest removal:

4laddjd(15 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

We all to to take this stand. If we do not we will lose our streets,cities, and country. Our ancestors did not hide, they took responsibility and pride in their streets, neighborhoods and nation.

Suggest removal:

5annaakita(15 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

i was thinking that same thing allstar...they will off her now that they know she is the neighborhood snitch.

Suggest removal:

6starofesther(168 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

"Little Beirut"? No Not unacceptable
Matthew 12:37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Declare Something Good! From Mob Town to the Lord Jesus Our Almighty God's Town

Suggest removal:

7starofesther(168 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

I Declare the Lord God Almighty is gonna protect this woman in Jesus Name And I do not receive that someone is going to kill her Thank You for Protecting her...Power of life or death in the tongue!
!!!!Speak LIFE!!!
Proverbs 18:21
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love to talk will have to eat their own words.

Suggest removal:

8hmm(183 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

@allstar- there are hundreds of thousands of young man and women fighting and dying for less and causes they don't believe in . There are MANY OTHERS (yes there are others) like is woman that do the same thing.. OUR neighborhood is OUR world and OUR responsiblity. I live on the South side and like others "patrol" my neighborhood AND know people in my "hood" because WE watch each others backs because WE know there aren't enough resources... I remember growing up and thats the way it was, the neighborhood was one big family, and it was safe.. WOW what a concept maybe more people should try it AGAIN..

Suggest removal:

9grand4dad(196 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

God bless you Victoria Allen. Everyone needs to step up and make a difference in their neighborhoods. Thank you for all you do.

Suggest removal:

10Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

Those on the other side of the law and beyond morality do have a fear of being executed and jailed . But when they experience multiple probations they know that society isn't serious aboul punishing them .

Suggest removal:

11QCfan(3 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

God bless you Victoria Allen. Thanks!

Suggest removal:

12ghc2988(2 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

Many thanks to people like Victoria, YPD, and all crime fighters.

Youngstown Mayor supports the upcoming November 2nd, Mahoning County Public Library Levy. The Mayor supported and campaigned for the Youngstown Public School Levy that passed.

Most rational people realize that Youngstown does not have enough money for more police officers. They realize that Mahoning County does not have enough money for prosecutors and available jail space.

If a Youngstown tax increase is what it takes for more police and jail space, then try it. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: People’s safety being the second most important need after food, water, shelter, etc. Youngstown residents would support a tax increase for their security. Only if the tax increases is specific: Tax increase is ONLY used to add more YPD officers patrolling the streets. More drug/gang enforcement agents. More available jail spaces to put the criminals.

You can’t be proactive enforcing existing laws when street police and jail space is under staffed. One of many examples: You could find a lot of illegal criminal activities during sleeping hours pulling over the here I’m look at me police officer; car blasting, window shattering, loud music. You need to be properly staffed to do it though.

You can try defending, revitalizing, beautifying Youngstown all you want, but until Youngstown crime enforcement becomes the number one priority, good people will not live in this area and the remaining good residents will eventually leave.

Thanks again Victoria, YPD, Mahoning County violent task force, and all crime fighters. I know you’re under staffed. Youngstown and Mahoning county politicians will get my thanks, support, and VOTE, when they start working together implementing common sense issues.

Suggest removal:

13southsidedave(4784 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

This woman performs a dangerous job for no remuneraton that makes the community safer. However, she is placing her safety in jeopardy each day.

Take care Ms. Allen

Suggest removal:

14areyoupeopleserious(9 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

Good for her! I wish the rest of the community would try to help her out. I pray for her safety and for help in her mission.

Suggest removal:

15Nonsocialist(710 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

What a brave and good person.

UnionForever and dimebag are both correct. She needs a firearm. Also, enough people have died. Call in the National Guard and establish a green zone (yes, like in Baghdad) and gradually expand your perimeter....or just keep doing what your doing.

Suggest removal:

16USMC0331(150 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

@censoredship

I forgot to get back to you with those numbers but there they are black and white. 155 sworn officers. And less than half are on the streets patroling. It's sad. Ms Allen is doing a great thing. To everyone else we don't need to have the national guard Come in here. We need more police. You just don't realize how understaffed they are. And ms Allen is the perfect weapon in this fight. Why because she knows and sees things that no one else would or can. She just needs an armed guard at her side. God bless ms Allen and stay safe. If you need a bodyguard just say the word.

Suggest removal:

17redvert(2075 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

If these numbers are correct and I have no reason to doubt, then if less than half of the 155 sworn officers are on the street then obviously that is problem number one. Would be nice to hear the mayor or the police chief explain what the breakdown of officers on desks and on the street is and justify the breakdown.

Think that will happen?

Suggest removal:

18Sniper(1 comment)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

I've known Vicky for a long time, and I'm not really supprised about all this. I live in Lorain County, so I don't know about the neighborhoods in Mahoning, but I know Vicky.... She's a "Mama Grisly" looking out for her cubs. She just decided to include all the neighborhood kids in her den, too... She'll never carry a firearm, it's not her way. Vicky wears the armor of the Lord. Jesus expects us to do what is right, and for her this is Right. The people of those neighborhoods will never have a better friend, and the bad guy's better hide.

Suggest removal:


News
Opinion
Entertainment
Sports
Marketplace
Classifieds
Records
Discussions
Community
Help
Forms
Neighbors

HomeTerms of UsePrivacy StatementAdvertiseStaff DirectoryHelp
© 2014 Vindy.com. All rights reserved. A service of The Vindicator.
107 Vindicator Square. Youngstown, OH 44503

Phone Main: 330.747.1471 • Interactive Advertising: 330.740.2955 • Classified Advertising: 330.746.6565
Sponsored Links: Vindy Wheels | Vindy Jobs | Vindy Homes | Pittsburgh International Airport