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Talk of drones, curfew takes off

City officials consider options to fight recent increase of violence

WARREN — City officials are looking at the latest technology, including drones and cameras, to combat an uptick in crime.

Warren council met Thursday to discuss how drones and other technology can be used by law enforcement in dealing with individuals with weapons on four-wheelers and dirt bikes, and others violating curfew.

Councilman Andrew Herman, D-2nd Ward, who hosted the meeting, said crime in the city, particularly several recent shootings, has been a problem for a long time and seems to be getting worse, so new strategies are being considered.

“I believe that if the people all come together, we will be stronger working with the police and the administration to stop crime. We need to stand strong together and take our city back,” Herman said.

Resident Bob Weitzel of the Northwest Neighborhood Association, which helps patrol the city, said council members, who this week were approved to recommend projects up to $500,000 from American Rescue Plan funds for their wards, should consider using some money for police.

“They each have $500,000 to spend in the city. They talk about parks, flower gardens and sidewalks. Those things don’t mean anything if you don’t have a safe city and a strong police force,” he said.

Resident Ken Beachler said curfew must be enforced to keep younger people inside and not out late to cause problems. He said the four-wheelers are doing wheelies on the road and driving fast on public streets.

Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold, D-6th Ward, said several Ohio communities have made their curfews earlier because of crime, and she recommended doing the same in Warren.

Saffold said it is possible those violating the curfew could be involved in shootings and other crimes.

“We have got to do whatever it takes to curb the violence. We need to stop these young people when they are violating curfew,” she said.

EYES IN THE SKY?

Several residents spoke about problems with people on four-wheelers and dirt bikes, some with guns, causing problems on the roads.

One suggestion to solve this is to use drones, which can pinpoint a vehicle and stay on that person.

“If we put drones in the air, people on four-wheelers won’t be able to outrun it. Drones could help alleviate the problem,” Herman said.

Safety Service Director Eddie Colbert said for the public’s safety, he will not have police chase a four-wheeler going 80 mph.

“That’s not going to happen. I will not tell the police to chase four-wheelers and dirt bikes at high rates of speed down the street. That will put more people’s lives in danger for what in the end will amount to a traffic citation,” Colbert said.

City resident Bob Jadloski with Aerial Solutions said drones could be used to pinpoint a person on a four-wheeler and stay on that person to know where the driver goes.

“When the drone sees something, you can hit a button and it will lock on the object,” he said.

Colbert said the state gave the city $218,000 for the police department, which will be getting 20 more surveillance cameras for streets.

“The newest advanced technologies will help us whether it’s cameras or drones. The technology is there for us to use. We need to implement it to help the police department solve these crimes. The crimes we face today are not the same type of crimes we faced 10 years ago,” he said.

Residents said getting the new technology will help bring it into the 21st century.

“We need to make Warren a safe place to live,” Weitzel said.

Herman said reaching out to residents is important because they may know where the drug houses are in their neighborhoods.

Resident Jennifer Walker said it is important to get the police officers the equipment needed so they can do their jobs better.

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