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Mayors, police talk crime with Gov. Mike DeWine

Eight mayors and police chiefs of mid-sized communities met with Gov. Mike DeWine about ways the state can help them lower crime and improve investigations.

Mayor Doug Franklin of Warren and Mayor Jamael Tito Brown of Youngstown attended the meeting at the governor’s home.

“Gov. DeWine wanted to reach out to medium-sized cities and hear about our needs,” Franklin said. “A lot of departments from larger cities have a lot of cutting-edge technology. The governor wanted to reach out to smaller communities to learn our needs.”

Other mayors and police chiefs attending the two-hour meeting were from Lorain, Springfield, Elyria, Lima, Mansfield and Springfield.

“It was a very productive meeting,” Franklin said. “The governor did quite a bit of listening to all of the community needs and our concerns. He recognized there has been a spike in violent crimes.

“We talked about our recruiting challenges,” Franklin continued. “It is a problem that’s also being faced by the other cities.”

Jill Del Greco, the governor’s spokeswoman, said, “This was an informal meeting with mid-sized communities to have a dialogue about any issues that law enforcement is facing today, to talk about any resources they may need and to discuss how the state might be able to help.”

DeWine gave an overview of new programs in the Ohio Department of Public Safety, including the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center and the Ohio Law Enforcement Recruitment Office.

Franklin said the governor then informed the mayors and police chiefs what kind of assistance the state could provide them.

A big topic of conversation focused on strengthening gun laws in Ohio and the nation.

“We are concerned about getting guns out of the hands of people that are not allowed to have them,” Franklin said. “It is a small percentage of those — about 10 percent — that commit most of the crimes.”

Franklin emphasized legal gun purchasers who go through gun shops get background checks.

“We talked about legislation to address those that obtain weapons through gun shows where background checks are not required,” Franklin said.

Listening to what the other mayors and police chiefs were saying, Franklin said Warren appears to be ahead of the curve on many issues, including the issuing of body cameras to officers and using technology in its investigations of crimes.

The city already has issued 20 body cameras to officers and has 16 other cameras available.

Youngstown, too, is trying out types of body cameras for its police force.

“The governor was a very gracious host,” Franklin said. “He and his staff took to heart what we told them. It was a great merging of ideas.”

The governor’s office sent a contingent of officials from the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center to Warren on Thursday to continue the conversation.

“Chief (Eric) Merkel had his command staff prepared to talk with them and show them what we’ve accomplished,” Franklin said.

The mayor expressed confidence that two meetings will help the city get future advanced technical assistance and contacts for crime-reduction grants.

“I believe the result of these conversations will be that we will have resources and personal relationships that were not easily available,” Franklin said.

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