Residents look to cut crime
Possible police substation in 6th Ward discussed
WARREN — Nearly two dozen residents expressed support Monday for Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold’s efforts to get a police substation in the former Palmyra Road fire station.
The 6th Ward councilwoman enlisted area pastors and community residents for a forum discussion in council chambers, emphasizing the need for increased action by city administration to reduce crime in the ward. Although Saffold has been stressing a need for a substation, the councilwoman listened to a variety of ideas to reduce crime in the city.
Many of the speakers argued having officers in the community would help foster police and community relationships.
Saffold said over the last several year, the ward has experienced an increase in the number of killings and other crimes.
“There have been promises to address crime, but we have not seen a plan,” Saffold said.
She suggested the substation also would be a community station.
“We are hoping that a substation will be a catalyst for young people and even some older people to talk to police officers,” Saffold said.
“We would like the police to form a police athletic league. We need to forge relationships with our police department.”
Wheeler Morgan was among the residents who expressed concern about deaths that have not been solved.
“We, as a ward, should come together to present our concerns to the police chief,” Morgan said. “We are paying tax money to get the police department to full force. They are around outside of the area, but I believe they should be inside the area.”
Pastor Robert Stringer said the community needs to make demands from the city administration.
“There are too many murders in the community that have not been solved, including the murder of my son,” Stringer said. “My son was murdered in 1997. The investigation is in the dead file now. There is something wrong if we have officers that cannot solve murders in a small town.”
Stringer said strategy meeting should be held to formulate demands. “This is not going to stop until we make demands,” he said.
Todd Johnson, 38, pastor of Second Baptist Church, described there being 26 killings in the four years prior to the passage of the 0.5 percent tax increase supporting the hiring of new police officers and firefighters — and 41 in the nearly four years after the tax increased passed.
“That’s a significant increase,” he said. “Very significant.”
6th WARD’S NEEDS
Johnson talked about grasses not being cut and terrible condition on the sidewalks.
“We should get the same support and help that other wards around the city get,” Johnson noted. “The 6th Ward helps to pass levies and taxes.”
Johnson said he is supportive of the former fire station becoming a police station
“When I was young, that was an active building in our community,” Johnson said. “There were officers on bikes. That made a difference.”
Johnson said he is a part of the civil service commission that goes through the applications of people applying for police and fire jobs.
“Even I have not met the vast majority of the new officers,” Johnson said. “I have suggested that they get more into the community.”
Johnson said many in the community — especially young people — do not trust the officers.
“We have asked the officers to be more active in the community and be more visible,” Johnson said. “And not always in uniform. Come to our events and get to know our residents. Get to know the community on a personal basis.”
Johnson said the city can find money for the a roof and renovation of the small former fire station.
TALENT AND SKILLS
Resident Mary Jo Moore criticized the department.
“I don’t think they have the talent or the skills to solve a problem … at least the serious problems we have,” she said. “They are not solving the serious problems. “
Moore said she would like to encourage young people to start their own groups to address those who are out at 1 a.m. causing problems.
“We have to involve and encourage our young people to step up and speak out,”she said.
Moore described some young relatives on Highland Avenue having a lemonade stand. She described some police officers stopping and buying some lemonade not once, but twice.
“The kids thought it was the greatest thing,” she described. “They knew the officers’ names. It reminded me of when I was young.”
Moore said the little things are important.
“We have to create self-help groups,” she said.
Thomas Conley, executive director of the Greater Warren-Youngstown Urban League, said while the police department may not be where they want it to be, it is much better than it was prior to the Department of Justice coming into the city and establishing a consent decree that ended just last year.
“There has been a lot of improvement,” Conley said.