A series of unfortunate homi- cides and shootings in Warren over the past few weeks has cast an uneasy pall over the safety and security of the city’s 41,000 residents. Fortunately, however, it’s also galvanized leaders to fight back vigorously.
To their credit, Warren Mayor Doug Franklin with the city administration, its police department, community service agencies, the state attorney general’s office, federal law enforcement officials and others have coalesced to launch an aggressive and multi-pronged crusade that balances harsh penalties for offenders with viable escape valves for street thugs in training.
Among the incidents that have shattered the peace in the proud former capital of the Connecticut Western Reserve have been the Oct. 19 shooting death of Taemarr Walker, 24, by Warren police as Walker reportedly was en route to “shoot up” a local tavern and the Oct. 26 shooting death of Richard Rollison IV at a service station on West Market Street. Those two killings are tied, authorities believe. Then just last weekend, another shooting injured a man near the same gas station at which Rollision was gunned down.
SLOW RESPONSE AT FIRST
In the early stages of this rising tide of urban mayhem, Warren city officials acted unreasonably slowly in providing needed details to reassure the community that their leaders, in concert with other law-enforcement authorities, were doing all possible to solve the cases, find the suspects and keep city streets safe. Tensions grew so pervasive that the season-ending Warren Harding High School football game had to be canceled over fears of retaliatory thuggery and bloodshed.
In recent days and weeks, however, authorities have become much more proactive and much more public in charting a workable course toward enhanced community safety and preservation of law and order. Consider this rapid-fire chain of positive developments:
Last week, U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio Steven Dettelbach pledged that his office, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other federal authorities will ramp up their presence in Warren, using some of the same successful programs that have worked to lessen the criminal element in the city. These included expansion of the Violence Interdiction program and Operation Little D -Town in which 100 people — many of whom with ties to Detroit — and hundreds of guns were removed from city streets earlier this year.
Pledges of federal cooperation and help from U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th. Ryan, for example, was instrumental in securing a $250,000 grant to fortify operations in the city police department.
Active assistance from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office in launching an Operation Ceasefire program in Warren.
The program carries with it tremendous potential for success. When implemented in Cincinnati, for example, Operation Ceasefire produced a 41 percent reduction in violent gun crime, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
We will be watching authorities to ensure these and other promising programs are developed fully and implemented speedily. We also will be watching city leaders who vow to develop a better strategy for engaging The Vindicator and other mass media in the region so that information critical to a community’s safety is released in as timely a manner as possible. After all, inadequate and incomplete information too often spawns misinformation, which, in turn, can have unwanted and tragic consequences.
For now, however, it appears as if Warren residents can breathe a little easier, knowing that their municipal leaders have amassed a robust arsenal of tools and weaponry to battle street crime, ease community fears and restore a measurable degree of civility to their proud city.