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Youngstown’s homicide rate is stable, but still far too high

Published: Wed, January 9, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

There is some consolation to be taken in the fact that the number of homicides in Youngstown today is roughly half of that when the carnage peaked in the city, about 20 years ago.

In 1992, Youngstown registered 53 homicides. In 2012 it was 25.

It was in the ’90s when a Vindicator police reporter was talking to a Pittsburgh police officer about a homicide that had connections to both cities. “How many homicides has Youngstown had?” the cop asked. When the reporter gave him the number, the officer exclaimed, “that’s more than us and we’ve got Major League Baseball.” Youngstown, alas, was a major league city in only one arena, that in which one Youngstowner killed another, most often by gun. Sometimes in passion, more often as part of a drug war.

Crime statistics for homicides are recorded in incidents per 100,000 residents. Youngstown was always near the top of list, often eclipsing other “major league cities.”

Even today, Youngstown’s 25 homicides last year give the city an alarmingly high homicide rate of about 38 per 100,000 population. It’s a rate twice as high as that of Cleveland, and for all the talk that’s heard these days about murders in Chicago, the Youngstown rate is twice as high as that of the windy city, based on FBI statistics for 2011. And, yes, people are still twice as likely to be homicide victims in Youngstown as they are in Pittsburgh. Youngstown’s homicide rate is close to that of St. Louis, Mo., and Newark, N.J., and it compares favorably only to New Orleans, where homicides occur at the rate of 57 per 100,000.

So while we applaud Youngstown Police Chief Rod Foley, his predecessor, Jimmy Hughes, and the police department for five straight years of keeping the number of homicides in the city below 30, there is still obviously much more to be done. Some credit should be given, too, to the Cleveland office of the U.S. attorney, which has supported various anti-crime efforts, including those designed to get drugs and guns off the streets.

Foley said efforts are being made to focus on preventing crime, rather than just managing it. That will not only require continued vigilance by the police, but also increasing degrees of community involvement.

A slow process

Youngstown didn’t earn its unhappy status as a high-crime city overnight, and shedding it will be a long process as well.

Each of those 28 homicides ruled in the city in 2008 or the 25 last year was an individual, and any of those killings should be enough to mobilize the residents of the city in a campaign to stop violence and save lives.

But each year, it seems, there is at least one dramatic murder that horrifies the public.

In 2010 it was the Jan. 23 murder of Angeline Fimognari in the parking lot of St. Dominic Catholic Church.

In 2011 it was the Feb. 6 shooting of Jamail Johnson, 25, as he tried to resolve a dispute at an after-hours party near the Youngstown State University campus.

And last year it was the Aug. 20 murder of Bryce Linebaugh, 8, killed while he slept by a bullet fired into his Maplewood Court home.

That case was closed this week when Shawn Wilson, 21, pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including aggravated murder, and was given a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Killing has its consequences, as Wilson learned in the courtroom of Judge R. Scott Krichbaum. But killings also have a consequence for a community, which is a lesson yet to be fully appreciated in Youngstown.


1bernie1937(1 comment)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Of the cities mentioned, does anyone see any common connections? Might as well be in Mexico and some of their areas are much lower.

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21loaf(100 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

No one notes that when the homicide rate was double some years ago so was the city population. Per capita we are still on course.

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3excel(1307 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

It could be said that criminal spirit of Youngstown continues to flourish. It is a no brainer that crime flourishes when jobs diminish. Idle hands comtinue to do the work of the devil.

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4VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Idle hands, definitely. But we have a segment of society that will not seek work because they have been raised the wrong way. Even those who rehab and try to re-enter society are often poor workers. They have trouble with listening to instructions and often look for shortcuts or do not understand the importance of quality work. There is an alarming growth in the number of young adults who have trouble with the importance of time, quality of work and self-improvement. Many find this too difficult and end up back to their comfort zone of public assistance, unemployment, WIC, food stamps and stealing from local merchants. For local business people, this is very frustrating, as there is a demand for good workers, but for every good one you find there are 3 or 4 who are a bust.

Another alarming trend is seeing parents use their children to steal goods from local stores, then lie, scream and argue in denying it. They even threaten the merchant. What a way to raise children. No wonder other nations consider our society regressing. I feel the same way. All children enter the world as angels, but after some parents gets through with them, they become monsters and a drag on society. Our government's answer to this is to give them money, food and healthcare, so the problem grows. That is the worst possible answer, as it enables generation after generation of growing need. In this we are failing and we have no other answer than to send them more money and care. Hope and Change is not coming for those poor folks, despite what politicians say. Those poor little angels entering the world have no idea what they are getting into...sad, so, so sad.

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5TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

What's the fix vindyak?

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6TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Apparently there is none. Thanks vindyak

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7VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Sorry to say TB, but I don't have a fix...only an observation.

A correction to the lifestyle of "families" is a beginning. There is so much that needs adjusting. Let's start with rewarding those who live together as a family and not reward those who live apart.

It has taken our society 40 or 50 years of decline to get where we are today, but it seems the last 20 years has been the most damaging.

It also seems our society was better off when government did not interfere. Now we have huge governmental programs, budget overruns and waste, yet we continue our decline. Are we truely getting our money's worth?

The solutions are endless, but the desire to do so are wanting.

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8TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

So what is to be done with the kids and young adults you reference above?

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9excel(1307 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

The common denominator is decay caused by the severence of lifeblood after the shutdown of industry in Youngstown. Amongst other decay, the decay of moral values has left the city wide open for people to do their thing. Drugs and the killing of others make them feel good about themselves.

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