WARREN - The Sunday morning shootout death of 32-year-old Marco Dukes brought out more than 100 residents Friday afternoon to Sunrise Banquet Hall to discuss public safety, police and economic development.
Residents discussed varying ideas, from adding more police to the force to cleaning up around buildings to sending some drug offenders to treatment programs instead of jail.
Mayor Doug Franklin, Safety-service Director Enzo Cantalamessa and police Chief Timothy Bowers took questions from audience members for about 1 1/2 hours. Former Girard Mayor Joseph Melfi moderated the discussions.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Raymond L. Smith
Trumbull County Coroner Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, standing, talks about how drug-related deaths have increased over the years during a discussion that involved Capt. Janice Gilmore, left, police Chief Timothy Bowers, Mayor Doug Franklin and Safety-service Director Enzo Cantalamessa.
Bowers said tips from residents made it possible for the police to capture two of the people involved with the deadly shooting.
"We can't do it by ourselves," Bowers said. "We would not have captured two of the shooters so quickly if it wasn't for city residents coming forward to tell officers what they saw."
Franklin suggested that residents working with police can help to deter crime.
"Last week, I learned a group of residents on Washington Street had formed an association and, because of their efforts, we've already been able to make some arrests," he said.
Franklin emphasized that good people in the city outnumber the few people who want to cause trouble 100 fold.
"Fear is not our friend," Franklin said. "If you see something and you call. If your neighborhood calls. We can build the data to take to court to get people off the streets."
Bob Weitz of the Northwest Neighborhood Association complimented the police department for creating a tip line that people can call without identifying themselves to make reports.
Nick Frankos questioned whether DUI checkpoint grants may be used in targeted locations, such as around bars.
Bowers said Warren Police Department oversees the grants received in Trumbull County.
"Locations of the OVI checkpoints is statistically based," he said. "The locations are justified by the numbers."
Bowers said the point of the checkpoints is not to make the most arrests, but to be deterrents to people going out impaired.
"We print the locations of the checkpoints in the newspaper," Bowers said. "We want resident to have second thoughts about having that next drink."
However, Bowers said, the department works with the U.S. Marshals and the highway patrol in areas around the posted checkpoint locations so they will catch those people who try to get around them.
While officials were encouraging increased citizen involvement, Aaron Chine asked why he was discouraged when he made a citizens arrest in February of a woman who accosted him while begging for money.
Franklin said they are concerned that people may get into a situation in which there could two people injured as a result of confrontations between the suspect and citizens trying to make an arrest.
Franklin said the city is trying to work on loiterers and panhandlers.
"It is a problem that we have to deal with," he said. "Some of these people need help."
Steve Simpson, who owns a computer business in the downtown area, suggested more police need to be walking a beat in the downtown area as the city had when he was younger.
"In 2008, the city had 81 officers on the force," Franklin said. "Today we have about 60."
There were several people who said there should be more police officers on the street.
"We are in the process of hiring officers," he said.
Rob Lewis told the panel that more effort needs to be placed in the police and residents having better relations.
"We've been proactive in creating a Citizens Police Academy in which residents can learn what police officer do and officers can learn about residents," Franklin said. "We also make police officers available to go to community group meetings."
Anna Provitt suggested increased prayer and involvement in programs that help young people.
"There is a program in Youngstown where young people who are bullied are taught how to box," she said.
Elizabeth Balint questioned whether there is a program in which the city would clean up abandoned buildings and homes, because areas that look unkept and abandoned attract the criminal element.
"I agree that a a clean, unkept neighborhood tend reflect the values of the people living in it," Cantalamessa said.
"We are fortunate that over the next year and a half, we are going to tear down about 300 homes," Franklin said.
Diane Sauer, owner of Diane Sauer Chevrolet and the president of Trumbull 100, told the administration members that the business community would do whatever it could to help find ways to increase safety in the city.
Patty Fleeger, an owner at Gene's Jewelers, asked if residents and businesses could, perhaps, raise enough money to pay the salary of a police officer or purchase equipment.
"We just want to make sure the money is used for what it is intended," she said.
Emma Motley suggested finding alternatives to jail terms for some people who clearly need treatment for addictions.