City police to ramp up patrols on South Side

By David Skolnick


City police will step up enforcement on the South Side with the help of other law-enforcement agencies during the next two to three weeks in response to five homicides and a shooting in the last few weeks.

Police Chief Rod Foley said Thursday that the saturation patrols will include Youngstown officers as well as members of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Adult Parole Authority, Mahoning County juvenile probation department, the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“It’s a short-term solution to a long-term problem, but we’re developing a long-term strategy,” Foley said.

The focus of the saturation patrols is to get guns off the street, he said.

“We’re going to stress that you shouldn’t be carrying a gun,” Foley said. “If you get caught carrying a gun, you’ll get put away.”

To reduce Youngstown police overtime costs, Foley said additional officers will be reassigned to patrol with a concentration on “peak” times for crime, between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m.

The focus area is the city’s South Side between South, Glenwood, Indianola avenues and Midlothian Boulevard.

In a little more than three weeks, there have been five homicides and a shooting. Except for one slaying, all others occurred on the South Side.

Foley described the “spike” in violence as “an anomaly on the screen,” saying most homicides and shootings in the city occur during the summer months.

A key component of a long-term solution to getting guns off city streets is Operation Ceasefire, city officials say.

The program identifies the city’s most-frequent criminal offenders and provides intervention and alternatives to the criminal lifestyle — with the assistance of local residents, groups and churches — to deter them from committing crimes. If the people identified continue to commit crimes, they’ll be arrested and prosecuted, city officials say.

City officials planned to implement Operation Ceasefire in 2008, but it never got started, said DeMaine Kitchen, administrative assistant and secretary to Mayor Charles Sammarone.

Kitchen, a former city councilman, said the program has had a lot of success in other cities such as Boston and Cincinnati.

“This is not a magic bullet or an overnight success story,” he said. “It will take time, patience and commitment. It will take time, and we can’t abandon it when a crime occurs.”

Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, supports the program saying that many kids who commit crimes are “followers who don’t want to” break the law.

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