Rachael Hathorn can't say for sure whether crime has declined in her neighborhood since April 17. However, Hathorn, a resident of Warren's 4th Ward, said she hasn't seen as much "open" criminal activity since agents swept through the city rounding up people they identified as career criminals.
"I don't know if that's because people are more cautious about getting caught, if they're trying to be more quiet about what they do, if they've moved on or if they've stopped altogether. It's hard to say. But it does seem like we're not seeing it, at least out in the open, as much as before."
With the April 17 crime sweep and other busts in Warren soon after, some city residents said they were optimistic about local law enforcement's efforts to rid the city of drug activity and the violence that often comes with it. Hathorn said she can be counted among them.
At the time, officials said the raid was a message they were serious about cracking down on crime.
The effort came after 19 federal indictments were unsealed charging 55 people with various violations of federal narcotics and weapons charges in Warren and the surrounding area. At the same time, 42 people were charged in state court. Within a few days, most of the people charged had been arrested or turned themselves in.
Most of the people charged in state court also had posted bond within a week and are currently making their way through the courts.
"It's hard to say how all of this will pay off in the long run," said Lt. Jeff Orr of Trumbull-Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force. "Only time will tell. What we do know is that this isn't a war that can be won overnight."
The Tribune Chronicle surveyed crimes reported in the city two weeks before the mop up, touted as one of the largest sweeps locally in years, and two weeks after it to see whether the round-up had the immediate impact some people had anticipated.
According to police records, at least 33 assaults or felonious assaults were reported in Warren during the two weeks before the mop up; and at least 30 were reported in the two weeks after it.
Police reported at least 27 and drug-related offenses before the sweep and at least 23 after it. Also before the sweep, police reported at least 10 weapons offenses, 36 burglaries or break ins and13 aggravated or armed robberies. After the sweep, police reported at least 10 weapons offenses, 25 burglaries or breaks-ins and eight aggravated or armed robberies.
Records show that in some incidents several offenses were committed. For example, around 3 p.m. April 29 three people wanted on outstanding warrants were each arrested on three separate drug offenses including drug abuse and possession charges. On April 4, around 12:52 p.m., police arrested an individual on felonious assault and weapons charges related to a single incident.
Former Warren police Chief Tim Bowers, who retired recently, said it's evident most of the city's crimes can be linked to drugs.
"It would be great if we could take drugs out of the mix," he said. "People using drugs, people selling drugs, people stealing to get money to buy drugs. It's a cycle."
Bowers said the tallies just before the April sweep and right after can be misleading because they don't necessarily represent the crime that is taking place, but show indications of the work being done to stop it.
"I think some people were like 'Wow. This is really happening. This is really going down," said Rhonda Bennett, president of the Southwest Warren Neighborhood Association. "I think the message got across to a lot of people. At least I hope so. I think it showed that police are taking criminal activity very seriously and working to get drugs, drug dealers and criminals off the streets and out of out neighborhoods. I think we can expect to see more arrests, more raids and more crack downs in the future. It has to continue to make a lasting impact."
Recently, new Warren police Chief Eric Merkel said the community can expect to see more raids, more arrests and more collaborative efforts among policing agencies including the city police department, TAG, Trumbull County Sheriff's Office and the city prosecutor's office.
Merkel pointed out on Friday that many of the people responsible for local crime have been at the center of it for years.
"I'm hearing the same names today as chief as I did when I was out on the road years ago," Merkel said.
Recently, TAG, the Trumbull County Sheriff's Office, Warren police and the city prosecutor's office topped off a 3-month investigation by boarding up a residence they identified as a "drug house" and arresting two men inside.
At the time, Merkel said the city can expect to see more collaborative efforts like that.
The April 17 sweep came after a yearlong undercover investigation that officials said targeted numerous drug-trafficking organizations in Warren and Youngstown and surrounding areas.
U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach at the time said there were simultaneous efforts in Detroit, Dayton and Pittsburgh to apprehend suspects in the local investigation.
He said law enforcement's top priorities were to get significant quantities of narcotics off the street; get firearms out of the hands of criminals; and to get the criminals off the streets.