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In the wake of zero tolerance
March 11, 2009 - Joe Gorman
I didn't realize it until I did a story this past weekend on a Youngstown police zero tolerance traffic enforcement program that this is the first time since 2007 that the department did not run its anti-crime zero tolerance.
First implemented in the wake of a quadruple homicide in January of 2007 by an obviously frustrated Mayor Jay Williams, the program allowed the department to double the number of beat officers on the road for four hour shifts to saturate high crime areas with police.
While the results were mixed, the program was welcomed with open arms by both weary residents who were tired of dodging gunshots and the media who loved the possibilities of photos and stories of gangs of cops stopping and arresting those up to no good and cleaning up the city's chronic crime problem.
Some might say the program is not needed this year. The city has three homicides so far this year, less than this time last year or in 2007.
Some say this is the calm before the storm and that the crime will pick up when the weather gets better, yet crime overall in the city declined in 2008 from 2007, and indeed, in the last six quarters that the department keeps stats for.
Given the state of the city's budget, it may be hard to run the program again. They could offer comp time, but others have said that it's harder to attract people without giving them money instead of time. And when a second round of zero tolerance was run in 2007 and there were less officers who signed up, one of the explanations was that those who wanted the money already made it during the earlier round of patrols. That, and that most of those officers were burned out.
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