City council seeks solutions to cut crime

Approved HVAC project at 20 Federal

YOUNGSTOWN — Council members say there needs to be a more concerted effort to reduce the amount of violent crime in the city.

Towards the end of Wednesday’s council meeting, Julius Oliver, D-1st Ward, said various elected officials and those with nonprofit organizations need to work together to devise a plan to stop crime and poverty in Youngstown.

Oliver said he’s been at too many crime scenes, particularly those of young men murdered.

Councilwoman Lauren McNally, D-5th Ward, said the city was able to “throw a ton of money and a ton of people” at COVID-19 issues and should be able to do the same with crime.

Councilwoman Anita Davis, D-6th Ward, a retired police officer, said the city needs to hire reserve officers to the police department.

“You can’t say, ‘Short, short (on staff) and we need more officers’ and not want us to hire auxiliary officers,” Davis said.

The police patrol union, she said, has stopped the city from adding those officers.

Police Chief Carl Davis said he is open to using auxiliary officers.

Reached for comment after the meeting, James Rowley, president of the patrol union, said: “When you can’t hire people fulltime, it’s very unlikely you’ll find people for parttime. (City officials) made their own problem here with staffing.”

The police patrol unit is about 20 to 22 officers below its staffing level for part-time workers to be hired, he said. Once that is reached, the city can seek to hire auxiliary officers, Rowley said.

The union last week filed a grievance against the city for transferring seven officers to community policing saying it leaves patrol officers short staffed.

The police chief and area law enforcement officials announced last week that a saturation of officers from various law enforcement agencies — including the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, FBI, Ohio Adult Parole Authority and U.S. Marshals Service — would be on city streets in the coming weeks to address the rise in gun crimes in the city.

“There are too many guns on our streets,” the police chief said.

Also Wednesday, council approved having the board of control sign a $116,200 contract with Gardiner Service Co. of Solon to make heating and air conditioning improvements to the city-owned 20 Federal Place building.

Some council members a day earlier had expressed concerns about putting money into the downtown building because of a possible redevelopment project there, but agreed this work was needed.

The automatic temperature control system on the 96-year-old building failed in February and a contractor is needed each time there is a need to switch between heat and air conditioning, said Kevin Flinn, commissioner of buildings and grounds.

Because of national supply-chain shortage issues, it isn’t known how long the work will take to complete, Flinn said.


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