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March 19, 2011 - Joe Gorman
Thursday's roundup of gang members on the South Side of Youngstown should send a clear message to the criminal element: It's on. The police are after you.
I am not utopian enough to think one raid will solve problems -- the 100 cops who carried out a massive drug raid in Warren Thanksgiving weekend in 2009 performed well but the problem did not go away one bit -- yet it is clear that federal authorities and police are going for the jugular by indicting the members in federal court, where prison terms are longer and early release is almost non-existent.
At a press conference Friday to talk about the raids, those present said the dreaded (if you're a violent criminal, that is) VGRIP program will be making a return for the second year in a row in Youngstown. VGRIP works -- the violent crime rate was cut because of the presence of the extra patrols and intelligence generated by the program in both Youngstown and Warren last year -- and if I was a violent criminal I would plan accordingly with that in mind.
In Warren, a man wanted on federal drug and gun charges fled to the hinterlands of Trumbull County because he feared the presence generated by VGRIP in the city last summer -- and that's in a city where staffing problems have been generated by layoffs in the police department due to Warren's perpetual budget crunch. Although he wasn't arrested until earlier this month, the program effectively did its job by ridding a neighborhood of a menace. Imagine the impact the program could make in Warren if it had a full compliment of officers, plus extra patrols.
Now's the part where I have to be jaded journalist. Indeed, there is some things to be jaded about. There will be another gang to take the place of the LSP gang busted up Thursday. The demand for drugs and weapons will not go away anytime soon, and despite the raid, real estate agents are not flocking to the South Side of Youngstown all of sudden.
But still, it's a start, or a continuation, and it is a good one. The city seems determined this time. The one mark on Jay Williams' watch he will always be remembered for is the city;s spectular violent crimes which get lost in the overall picture of crime actually decreasing, so he will do whatever it takes to clean up the city as much as he can before his second term comes to an end.
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