WARREN – City leaders are working to reduce a recent spate of shootings by increasing the number of police on the streets, getting additional help from other law enforcement agencies and asking residents to participate in investigation of these crimes.
Mayor Doug Franklin said there has been an upsurge in shootings over the past two weeks and is asking citizens and others to help end the violence and save lives.
Franklin said a group of community leaders, called the Police Community Trust Initiative, which includes members of the administration, clergy and others, coordinated a response to the recent spate of shootings. The NAACP, Urban League, and Civic League are also working with the city to address this crime spree that has plagued the community.
“I am here to ask the entire community to stand with all of us to end this senseless violence which has led to several people being shot and an 18 year old innocent girl who had no beef with anyone, wasting his life,” said Franklin. “Her life ended before she even had a chance to flourish.”
Franklin noted that the common denominator of recent shootings was young people with guns.
“I’m just asking you to lay down these weapons, and I need the help of the adults around these young people,” said Franklin.
The city is taking a two-pronged approach that involves law enforcement and a faith-based response, he noted.
Franklin, along with Police Chief Eric Merkel, said officers were given unlimited overtime, including the Emergency Services Division, the Street Crimes Unit and the Detectives Division.
“We will enlist and work with our official law enforcement partnership, the Trumbull County Adult Parole Authority, to share information and develop strategies,” said Franklin. “We will also work with our federal agency partners, the ATF, DEA and US Marshals, and seek their assistance.”
Franklin stressed that the city is taking the fight against the eruption of shootings seriously.
“We have a zero tolerance policy” he noted. “These senseless acts of violence are unacceptable, and we will not sit idly by and let another life go to waste without an equal and equally aggressive response from the people you see with me.”
Merkel said the department increased its minimum complement of Emergency Services Division officers each shift.
“We are going to have between six and 15 officers on the street at any given time,” he said. “Our street crimes unit will start varying their hours in the evening and at night, driving around in unmarked cars mainly looking for firearms. I want to do proactive work there, focusing on firearms.
The department’s detective office will be called to respond to any incident.
“We normally send a few detectives and one or two evidence technicians to an incident, but we will send a full barrage there to investigate these scenes as quickly as possible with the aim of finding the perpetrator as quickly, as efficiently as possible, says Merkel.
About 500 firearms have been removed from the streets of Warren since 2020, Merkel noted.
Merkel stressed that the police cannot solve these crimes without the help of residents who come forward.
“They can do it in many ways. I just watched a homicide video this week and there were at least 15 people I know who saw this and know who shot it, and no one came forward,” he said. ” We have problems. I spoke to a victim today who is going to have lifelong medical issues, and they refuse to speak to us and say who shot them.
Merkel pointed out that security camera footage is sometimes invaluable in helping police solve crimes. The department has implemented a program called the Street Watch Program, which allows the department to upload video footage from home and business cameras.
However, the police are not always successful in using these images when investigating crimes.
“Many times we’ve had shoots in different neighborhoods and specifically in apartment complexes where the video isn’t up to snuff,” he said. “I think in 2022, as a resident of a housing complex, you have a right to have a decent working camera system in your complex.
“Apart from the video, if you want to share information and don’t want to contact these guys, we have an anonymous phone number. It’s 841-2658. You can leave your name. We don’t track the number. phone or whatever.
Dante Capers, associate superintendent of Warren Schools, said the town’s children deserved better.
“We want our children to grow up in a better climate than what is happening now,” said Capers.
Capers encouraged guardians to talk to their children and consider contacting “trusted establishments” such as churches, schools or community leaders when they worry about what is happening in the lives of young people around them.
Councilman Todd Johnson, D-1st Ward, said the violence that occurred could affect anyone.
“Fleas don’t have a name”, says Johnson. “Our goal is to save lives and preserve the future of our young people. We are ready to help and assist wherever we can.
Vince Peterson, a probation officer and pastor who grew up in Warren, said he was concerned about young people.
“It’s our city, good, bad and ugly”, he noted. “If we ever want to move forward, we have to keep working together and that can’t be reactive. We are at the point where we have to react, but eventually when we come out of the reacting state, what do we do from there? »