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Broken tail light initiative

Published: Sun, February 13, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Here’s an aspect of last Sunday’s deadly party fight that should worry residents of the city of Youngstown even more than they already are: The two accused shooters went to their car, grabbed heavy duty fire power and returned to the party house with a gun blazing.

It’s a safe bet that the gunslingers didn’t have a conceal-carry permit. That, in a nutshell, is the story of Youngstown’s criminal past, present and future — unless there’s an aggressive campaign to separate the criminals from their guns.

Four months ago, after the killings of 80-year-old Angeline Fimognari and 79-year-old Thomas Repchic, this writer suggested that city government had run out of time for taking back the streets, and that a declaration of a state of emergency was necessary.

Under emergency, law enforcement could mount an aggressive campaign against those who break the law with abandon.

An effective method could be called “The Broken Tail Light Initiative.”

Anyone who has spent any time on the bloody streets of the city can identify a gangbanger’s ride. It’s the one with all the bells and whistles and a price tag higher than many homes in the city.

Proactive policing

A smack on the tail light with a police nightstick (or flashlight) would result in breakage, thereby creating a traffic violation if the vehicle is driven. The cops would then have a reason to pull the driver over.

After that, it would be like taking candy from a baby. With no proof of legitimate employment and, most likely, an outstanding arrest warrant, a search of the vehicle would be justified.

Guns, bulletproof vests, crack and marijuana, and wads of cash will be found.

The inventory never changes.

What of the civil libertarians who will undoubtedly cry foul? Most likely, they live in the suburbs and, therefore, have no idea what it’s like to reside in the war-torn neighborhoods of Youngstown. Their opinions count for little.

In October, after the murders of Fimognari and Repchic, this is what was written:

“Youngstown is in a state of war that has been declared by the gangbangers and other dregs of society, and the city is losing. If there was any doubt as to the power of the enemy, the cache of weapons and other instruments of war found in the most recent murder investigation should put things in perspective.

“Those who would do us harm are well armed and are willing to kill at the blink of an eye.”

Last Sunday, that blink claimed the life of a 25-year-old man, who was shot to death at point blank range. Eleven other people were critically injured. The deceased was a Youngstown State University student, as were six of the other victims.

The weapon used in the act of violence that has again turned the national spotlight on Youngstown would make mobsters (remember them?) drool.

It is clear that those who have no moral underpinnings, no respect for the law and no fear of the criminal justice system use their vehicles — more often than not expensive SUVs — to carry out their criminal activities.

The challenge for law enforcement, therefore, is to invade that space.

Smashing a tail light to provide the police with a reason for a traffic stop may seem extreme, but in the overall scheme of things it’s necessary.

In a state of emergency, extraordinary police powers, the installation of surveillance cameras on streets throughout the city and the targeting of thugs are justified.

Seat belt law

As was noted in October, enforcement of the state’s seat belt law is an effective law enforcement tool. Gangbangers do not wear seat belts because they want to be able to scramble out of their vehicles when they are under fire.

The word should go out that if you are caught with a gun and do not have a conceal-carry permit, you’re toast. And, if you commit a crime using a gun, you’re going to be a guest of the state or federal prison system for a long time.

Either that, or Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams should invite some of the vigilante groups that have been effective in curbing crime in some of the major cities to bring their firepower and conduct neighborhood sweeps. The city could pay a bounty for “Youngstown’s Most Wanted.”


1saddad(655 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Ive seen journalists forced into retirement for saying such absurdities when they didnt know they were being taped. This joker actually prints it. Man!--this is dangerous stuff! Pure fascism. Time for this guy to go Vindy

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Question to Bertie: Where are you going to house all these criminals?

Solve the dysfunctional criminal justice problem first by making REAL changes to our county government and cops wouldn't have to violate people's rights by busting out tail lights.

BTW: Do cops even have billy clubs anymore?

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

"Those who would do us harm are well armed and are willing to kill at the blink of an eye.”

Within Youngstown there is not the political fortitude to go after these criminals in a big way . The thugs have their rights and supporters .

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4Doctore(52 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Yet when they launched saturation patrols, there was no shortage of folks screaming to high heaven about worthless police pulling people over for minor infractions. Besides, I've been gathering information on local Police agencies, for fun, just to see how well informed people who spread opinions are. I ask this, in reference to what I know about YPD. What officers are there to stop all of these cars? They can't even take their service calls without backing calls up to the point of wait times that reach several hours.

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51970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

1. He does not come out and say the police would be the ones smashing the taillights. He says having the broken taillight would be the reason for being pulled over. He seems to be suggesting citizens go out and do this.

2. The police do not need a broken taillight as a reason to make a stop. They can claim a left of center or failure to use a turn signal as reason for a stop. Both of those are impossible to contest, and gets the thug pulled over. And no broken taillight parts on street that needs cleaned up.

3. "After that, it would be like taking candy from a baby. With no proof of legitimate employment and, most likely, an outstanding arrest warrant, a search of the vehicle would be justified." This quote is strange. No proof of employment is not a reason to search a vehicle. Warrant, yes, joblessness, no.

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6saddad(655 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Its a total jackass piece and the Vindy is all jackasses if they keep him.

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7captdinger(110 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Way to go Bertram. I agree with you 100%. By the way, I have to laugh at some of these remarks, they must not know how to spell or at least use spellcheck. Almost typical Y'town.

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8ValleyNative(174 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

How about pulling over the 600,000 vehicles sans a front license plate? Oh wait, most of them are nice cars.

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9Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Don't always agree with you, but loved the article!

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10abtech(48 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

@Saddad...I mirror your sentiments 100%. I'm very glad that it is the first comment.

I find it odd that these dumb and ill-thought out editorials and statements that abound in the media come from college "educated" folk...so ANY nice car found in Youngstown HAS to be the car of a 'thug'?? And as far as suburbanites, yeah I know - no thugs live out in Boardman or Austintown, etc..I just wonder what will happen when a "law abiding suburbanite" drives their legitimately gotten Lexus and parks somewhere in Youngstown and returns to find a broken tail light to provide reason for them to be pulled over to ensure they're not a "thug".

by the way, police already do all of that illegal type of stuff..and way to be hypocritical and suggest illegal/dishonest activity for Youngstown's FINEST...wow...also most 'thugs' don't drive souped up cars, dudes that have those cars are prone to be too-spoiled/comfy/snug and not wanting to get their hands dirty in that "thug stuff", so they can continue to enjoy their souped up rides..

Bertand, ya' some eeeedyat bwoy deh!!!??!?!
(you may begin racist replies now...)

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11abtech(48 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Stan, is there an article that you DON'T comment on???!?! lol...not ripping ya, just asking.

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12abtech(48 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

btw, I personally know (very well) one of the ACCUSED<---key word right now) in that shooting that killed 1 and injured 11 people...and while I don't know what happened at all there (other than what the media says) I do know that the one that I know had 2 jobs, did not smoke or drink, or fit any of the "thug" profile so easily attributed to people in his situation...

I don't know if he did or didn't do this, or if he was just there, or whatever, and not defending him if he did...JUST POINTING OUT THE FACT that there is not a one-size-fits-all stereotype for a "thug"...and to use that as the cookie cutter mold of identification is idiotic, and very non-critical in thought..

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13abtech(48 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

yeah, I know when someone commits a crime, take them out back and shoot them in the head (please note my sarcasm).

basically, that's what many of yall are saying.."this guy was a crimininal, what is he doing on the streets???.."

"he had a prior record, why is he out...yada yada yaahh".

I believe it's called serving your sentence...paying your proverbial debt to society..

if some of yall had your way, someone who convicted of a crime would have no job, no housing, no driving privileges, perhaps no food to eat even...so why not just execute them from the rip??

Prior record is not a sure-fire indicator of propensity to commit future crimes, and likewise a clean record is not an indicator that one will NOT commit a crime (after all everyone starts off with a clean slate)..

and PRIVATE PRISONS is the last thing we need..highly unethical concept, extreme conflict of interests...lets say you're a company in the "prison industry" and you invest millions, or perhaps billions in prisons...are you likely to want crime to decrease? Even more scary is the notion that these "prison companies" are likely to lobby for unfair/unjust sentences and ludicrous definitions of crime, or worse - invest in things that persuade crime even - in order to fill their prisons..

case in point General Electric invests in private prisons, then buys ViVendi/Universal Records which pretty much is responsible for the majority of the "gangsta rap" that is in the market today...

talk about stream-lining your business...

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14VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

It certtainly is a shame we are using our military overseas to clean-up violence in other countries, when we cannot even clean up our own back yards.

Our cities are becoming battle zones as we refuse to address drugs, gang violence, and illegal border crossings... all in the sake of fearing to offend someone or some group.

Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but I am offended!

When will we finally realize that this degregation is leading to our destruction?!

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15Greetings(1 comment)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

I am shocked that Bertram would use this as a way of getting criminals off the street by suggesting that something else is done illegally. You also have a following where they believe that it is okay to request our police force to do this to cars they believe are being driven by someone that is committing crimes. When you allow any faction of a community to do anything illegal and agree with it, then you have opened the door, and where does it stop!!! I agree you have a very distorted view of the community and life itself.

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16saddad(655 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

And dont tell me its a joke. Its not funny-unless youre a jackass.

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17Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

abtech :
"Stan, is there an article that you DON'T comment on???!?! lol...not ripping ya, just asking."

I comment on a limited amount of articles . So you think that I should comment more often ?

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18Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago


"I believe it's called serving your sentence...paying your proverbial debt to society.."

Are you not sick and tired of all of the violence against INNOCENT victims? Are you not frustrated and ticked off of these young adults taking over the streets?

Look at these animals rap sheets. You really think they should be on the streets? There still young and have all these charges. And you think thats OK?

Braylon Rogers - 19
juvenile convictions for attempted burglary and disorderly conduct.
involved in a hit-skip accident in 2009

Columbus Jones Jr - 22
conviction for assault on a teacher when he was a juvenile, meaning he should not have had a firearm.
convicted of felony burglary
sentenced to three years in prison because of a probation violation in February 2008 but was released in April 2009.
accused of punching a woman in the face in 2007 as she fought with his girlfriend over a pair of broken glasses.


"Its not funny-unless youre a jackass"

It's funny and I'm not a jackass. You sticking up for the animals on the streets or are sick and tired of these animals?

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19Photoman(1248 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

These thugs are all armed and, some of them, extremely so. They are not well trained and certainly not safety conscious. I feel all citizens should be armed, safety conscious and should train themselves in the use and care of their weapon. Each of these recent crimes helps to build a case for disarming all citizens. That we cannot allow to happen. If disarmed, the citizenry would be at the mercy of governmental forces as well as at the mercy of the criminal elements.

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