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Saturation patrols revived to cut crime

Initiative aims to get guns off streets

YOUNGSTOWN — As they did last September, area law enforcement officials came together at a press conference at the Youngstown Police Department Friday to announce that a “saturation” of officers will address a “rise in gun incidents” in Youngstown in the coming weeks.

Mayor Jamel Tito Brown and police Chief Carl Davis announced that last year’s “Impact Initiative” is back, earlier than in 2021 because “there are too many guns on our streets,” Davis said.

As with an announcement Sept. 8, area law enforcement agencies such as the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, FBI, Ohio Adult Parole Authority and U.S. Marshal’s Service stood with Davis to announce the project. Those agencies and others will increase manpower deployed in the city, Davis said.

“The intent of this initiative is to have a positive impact on traffic safety and overall community safety while (stopping) criminal activity,” Davis said. “It’s basically going to be saturation patrols.”

He said officers and agents will “focus” on traffic stops “while looking beyond the initial reason for the stops. Officers will focus on (geographical) areas determined by the Youngstown Police Department, which experienced elevated levels of crime related to narcotics, gun violence and any other form of criminal activity,” Davis said.

“There are many individuals who believe carrying a gun and using it to resolve conflicts is the answer to their problem. But let me assure you, you will be seeing a high volume of police activity in many of your neighborhoods, as we look to take more guns off our our streets,” Davis said.

He added that “our officers will treat you with respect as they do their job. All we ask of you is that you are understanding with them.”

Lt. Gerard Slattery of the Youngstown Police Department said during the fall campaign of the Impact Initiative, over the course of 11 days, 21 guns, 268 grams of fentanyl, 70 grams of crack cocaine, 22 grams of powder cocaine, 15 grams of heroin and 500 grams of marijuana were seized, and many gun

charges were filed after 550 traffic stops.

“We’re looking for the people who are causing problems in our city,” said Slattery, who is vice squad commander and oversees the police department’s Neighborhood Response Unit. He also will oversee the Impact Initiative.

“We’re not after John Q. Public, who is obeying the law and forgot to use his turn signal. He might get pulled over for that … but as long as they’re straight, you can see we’re going to give you the break. We’re after the criminals. We’re after the guns. Eleven days, 22 guns,” he said.

The Impact Initiative began last September after a series of incidents, such as the killing of Persayus Davis May, 10, in her home on Samuel Avenue, in August and an overall high number of homicides and shootings up to that point.

Slattery said a federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area grant will pay for the overtime costs to run the operation.

Corey Taylor, Cleveland area supervisor for the FBI, said the FBI brings to the operation “manpower, of course for officer safety, we have a good intel branch here in Youngstown that will be helping” with identifying hot spots and crime analysis. He added that individuals also can be charged federally in some cases.

Ray Santiago, public affairs officer for the Ohio State Highway Patrol’, said additional strategies will be developed as the operation unfolds and could include Highway Patrol aviation units and canine officers and the patrol’s Ohio Investigative Unit, as well as troopers who patrol the roadways.

When Davis was asked about the grievance the police union filed against the city over moving seven officers to the community policing unit and off of regular patrol duties, Davis said a lot of people have left law enforcement in recent years, including some from the Youngstown Police Department.

“So one of the things we have to do is strengthen our partnership with the community, so I believe public safety as a whole can be addressed with community police in place. We can really hone in on some of those quality of life issues that citizens of Youngstown have asked for,” Davis said.

Slattery said seven officer are currently assigned to the Community Policing division to address issues such as high grass, trash and dogs not receiving proper care.

But they are “first and foremost policemen,” Slattery said. They still answer calls for service, and they can respond to calls outside of the ward of the city to which they are assigned if they are needed, Slattery said.

The police union complained in a press release that with some of the lowest numbers of officers in the department’s history, it is “unreasonable and dangerous” to move officers to the community policing division. The union asked that Davis reverse moving the officers to that unit.

Officers are being mandated to work 16-hour days multiple times per week “to staff the patrol turns that have been depleted” to send them to the community policing division, which the press release called a “luxury unit.”

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