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Lees exits with class; new chief brings new plans

If former Youngstown police Chief Robin Lees holds any bitterness from Mayor Jamael Tito Brown’s decision to terminate him, it wasn’t showing.

Rather, Lees stepped down Friday in the way he has served the city of Youngstown for many years — with class.

After receiving notification recently that the mayor was terminating him several months before Lees’ intended December retirement, Lees said this to our reporter:

“You take an appointment, and you understand it comes with the potential you can be unappointed. You serve at the pleasure of the mayor. You go into the job with that understanding. You come in with grace, and you go out with grace.”

Few, we believe, would share such a response after being terminated.

The mayor, however, had a job to do, and he did it.

Violent crime, already an ongoing problem, has shown no signs of slowing. Just moments into the new year, the city recorded its first homicide of 2021. The next day one more was quickly notched. The mayor always is tasked with seeking solutions for his city and holding someone accountable when progress is not made.

Now, welcome the newly named police Chief Carl Davis, who took over at 4:01 p.m. Friday, one minute after Lees’ official departure. His appointment was announced publicly earlier in the day Friday.

We had planned to use this space to encourage a broad search of candidates to fill the role. We intended to stress the need for a candidate with proven success in eliminating violent street crime and / or gang activity, a candidate with experience in seeking crime-fighting grants in order the stretch the city’s limited funding resources, and one who will work openly with the community.

We also wanted to see a chief who seeks and finds ways to fund and institute the body camera program that we have advocated, but that so far has not come to fruition. We thought the new chief should come with new ideas and a fresh approach.

The mayor moved quickly, however, and the qualifications that Davis brings seem to fill many of these needs.

Upon his introduction, Davis, a 34-year veteran of the city police force, stressed his goal of rebuilding trust and confidence in the department.

Davis most recently served as a Youngstown police detective sergeant. Since coming on board in 1986, he has worked in various different street and investigative capacities, making him well-rounded in preparation for this new role. Friday, he said he plans to get officers more engaged with those in the community via in-person neighborhood meetings and social media. He said he will seek feedback from residents about the use of body cameras.

Bravo!

During his tenure, he also spent time with the police chaplaincy corps in which he ensured that chaplains were providing spiritual guidance, counseling and comfort in times of crisis to officers and families. Now, he intends to work more closely with religious leaders to get clergy more involved with the department.

That’s also a wonderful and welcomed approach.

Brown described Davis’ approach this way: “It’s a change in philosophy. He wants to re-establish relationships.”

And among all of Davis’ qualifications, it should be noted that he was the only internal applicant who lives in the city, residing on the West Side. That’s important.

We are optimistic in Chief Davis’ qualifications and outlook. We encourage him in his new role, and we wish him luck in bringing to the residents of Youngstown exactly what they deserve — safety and security; community service and compassion; and openness and transparency.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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