YOUNGSTOWN - Focus is one of the key words for police Chief Rod Foley for 2013.
Foley said last week that he is hoping to run more focused patrols in neighborhoods in the upcoming year by taking advantage of crime data the department collects, so that officers can be where crimes are historically being committed.
Having officers patrol randomly is good for visibility, but Foley said he wants to strike a balance and also have them regularly check trouble areas in the city.
''I want to make sure we're doing both,'' Foley said.
With one day left in 2012, the city stands at 26 homicides, up three from 23 recorded in 2011. However, the rate of murders slowed in the summer after the city instituted Violence Interdiction Patrols (VIP) throughout the city. There were 15 homicides in Youngstown through the second week of June before the patrols.
The patrols sent extra officers to neighborhoods where shootings take place regularly, and they also targeted people and groups who were known to commit violent crimes or carry guns.
Foley said that is also part of a focused approach, and he said with manpower the city added over the course of the year, the department should be able to do some sort of VIP program in-house in months other than the summer. They received help this year from other agencies, including the U.S. Marshals and the FBI and the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force.
''I think we made progress. We're getting better at what we're doing,'' Foley said. ''I'm happy where we're at in getting more law enforcement involved. It's still a problem that's consistent and it's (violent crime) going to be there if we drop our guard.''
The department's four K9 officers are also running their own mini version of the program, working special patrols where they are on the lookout for drugs or guns, Foley said, using the lessons they learned during the summer when they ran the VIP.
Since Foley became chief in September 2011, the department has added 17 officers to the patrol division. That allows for flexibility in not only running extra patrols, but adding officers to other units or as liaisons to other agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Foley said he has other plans for 2013 but doesn't want to discuss them publicly until he meets with Mayor Charles Sammarone.