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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.”


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