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Judge wants coordinated security

Safety committee discusses plans after threat to council members

YOUNGSTOWN — Municipal Judge Carla Baldwin told Youngstown City Council’s Safety Committee that she has security concerns following a threat of violence toward members of council earlier this month.

Baldwin said Thursday she hopes the city can develop more consistent policies at the entrances to the municipal court, police department and city hall to avoid being victimized by waves of violence elsewhere in the United States.

The judge said she spoke with Mayor Jamael Tito Brown after a threatening email was sent to two council members June 9. The FBI is helping to investigate the threats.

“One of the things we talked about is consistency between both city buildings,” she said. “Have every person who comes to the building come through the metal detectors until we establish a policy as to who may be exempt, and what kind of identifying lanyard or photo ID — so we have consistency between both buildings,” she said.This will “relieve my officers from some stress,” the judge added.

She said she hoped to get the court, the security officers and city council “on the same page.” And she hoped to add more video equipment to make it possible for security officers at the court to “provide immediate support here at city hall.”

Baldwin said she believes it’s important that if something happens at the court building, security forces at city hall know and Youngstown police “are alerted.”

She said security officers are increasing their training “to make sure they are getting the same training as all other court security officers across the state.”

Before COVID-19 hit, a Youngstown police sergeant carried out a building-wide active shooter training at the court building. “We want to be as proactive as we can,” she said. “We have to be ready to respond appropriately in the event that trouble should arise.”

She said she thinks security officers “do a really good job of de-escalating situations. But I can tell you from judicial trainings I have attended, and heard from the FBI officer who responded to a judge who was shot at home in her driveway and had all of the measures in place appropriately, he really amped up how important it is for us to be aware of our surroundings and be careful of those we interact with and how we treat them.”

She said the person who can become violent “is typically never the person you suspect. … This judge was shot in her face in her driveway when she sentenced a man for credit card fraud and gave him probation.”

She said it taught her “not to live paranoid — but to live cautiously and be aware.”

After Baldwin’s remarks, the discussion focused on whether there should be exceptions made as to which people entering the court, city hall and police department should have to pass through the metal detectors, with some saying city employees should not have to pass through because of the slowdown that would cause.

Capt. Jason Simon of the Youngstown Police Department noted that all city employees are issued an identification badge made by crime scene investigators at the police department.

“We do have the means to make those,” he said, if the city decides to make its employees show a badge to enter.

Police Chief Carl Davis said after the threat to two council members, he directed officers to keep watch on council members’ homes and keep everyone updated on the investigation. They also circulated a photo of “the individual we believe is tied in with these threats.” The photos were distributed at city hall, municipal court and the police department for security officers to see.

Councilman Julius Oliver said he thanks the police department for what it did to investigate the threat but believes “the ball was dropped in the area of communication.” He would have preferred the information about the threat come directly from the police department instead of being passed among the council members.

“I was like, ‘That is not enough information. Do we know here he’s at? Do we know his address? Is he coming down Mahoning Avenue right now?'” Oliver said.

Simon said he was informed very early in the morning by council member Basia Adamczak of the email and called two detectives “familiar with the individual” suspected of sending it, and they went to that person’s home.

Simon said the police department could have done more to notify council members, but the police department knew that council members had informed each other of the situation. He said the FBI is involved because it has a “broader reach” in investigations such as this.

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