Had his successor kept certain overtime initiatives in place, some violent crimes — including the murder of a 17-year-old — would have been prevented, retired police Chief Jimmy Hughes said.
Current Chief Rod Foley said, however, that Hughes’ policies were breaking the bank and would not have stopped any surge in the homicide rate at the end of 2011.
Hughes, who is running for Mahoning County sheriff, said Foley, who became chief after Hughes retired, brought more than $27,000 in savings to the police department, but cut valuable overtime programs to do so.
He said cutting those programs resulted in increased crime and possibly an increase in the homicide rate.
Hughes touted special police details around St. Dominic Church on the South Side and at the East Side housing development where 17-year-old Carlos Crues Jr. was killed earlier this year, initiated during his administration, as major forces in crime prevention.
“We got all that stuff in place and not only did we get it in place, we crunched the numbers. We chased the individuals that were shooters, and we targeted them and we were picking them up,” Hughes said in a recent meeting with The Vindicator’s editorial board.
“And I think, personally, that’s the main reason why, when they cut all that stuff out, homicides skyrocketed,” he said.
Foley said Hughes was only able to maintain certain details through the use of considerable overtime — something the city budget could not maintain.
He said the department could not properly fill a patrol shift without placing officers on overtime because so many officers were assigned to special details.
Foley said the more-vital special details have been maintained, but several were stopped because of the cost.
Hughes retired in August 2011. The city had recorded 11 homicides for those first eight months.
Foley took office in September, and the city had an additional 12 homicides to end the year with 23.
“We would target individuals that were shooters. That Kendis Circle [Carlos Crues Jr.] shooting and killing would not have happened,” Hughes said.
Foley acknowledges the last eight months of Hughes administration saw less homicide and violent crime, but he said it is unfair to make a comparison based on eight months.
Foley pointed out the city’s 2011 homicide rate was on par with previous years. The city recorded 32 homicides in 2006; 39 in 2007; 28 in 2008; 24 in 2009; and 21 in 2010. Hughes became chief in 2006.
Hughes claims all overtime fell within his budget allotment and was necessary to put the brakes on certain types of crime in various parts of the city.