WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – In the past two years Warren police have confiscated 500 guns but still, people are being shot and killed. Just in the past eight days, Warren saw a teenage girl murdered and six people shot. The problems are so serious Warren city leaders gathered Friday to announce solutions.
Surrounded by 15 Warren city leaders with another 13 sitting, Warren Mayor Doug Franklin and Chief Eric Merkel started by announcing changes in the police department.
“Unlimited overtime for our officers in our department. This overtime will include the emergency services division,” said Franklin.
“Our street crimes unit will start varying their hours in the evenings and at night time. They’ll be driving around in unmarked cars looking for basically guns,” said Merkel.
They talked about how more and better video cameras need to be installed in Warren’s high crime areas.
“We’ve had homicides. We’ve approached management and years later another incident happens out there and still no cameras,” said Merkel.
Mayor Franklin suggested the city buy some cameras.
“I don’t care how we pay for it. That’s being debated, whether it’s ARP. We’re going to make the investment one way or the other,” said Franklin.
Franklin called on the city’s residents for help after several shootings where people were hurt and one person died.
“We cannot wait for another young person’s life to be lost,” Franklin said. “We are asking for the community’s help to end this violence. Stand with all of us to put an end to this senseless violence.”
Chief Merkel said when someone with a lengthy record is arrested they work with state and federal prosecutors.
“We’ll look at the state time that they can get and the federal time and whatever one’s greater we’re going to go with that,” said Merkel.
The chief also wants Warren City Council to change the discharging of a firearm law from a misdemeanor to a felony.
“It’s almost a joke when we catch somebody shooting a gun off in the city, in this urban environment, when there’s people everywhere, and we’re only charging them with a misdemeanor of the fourth degree,” said Merkel.
One by one, others spoke, many of them pastors in Warren’s churches.
“Our goal is to save lives and preserve the future of our youth and to be a resource,” said Reverend Todd Johnson.
“There is an attempt to reach out but there has to be a reach back,” said Reverend Avan Odom.
Residents are being asked to come forward with any information about crimes in the city. Warren Safety and Service Director Eddie Colbert said he has heard firsthand from people impacted by the violence.
“I know specifically of multiple mothers right now that are crying in their homes because they’re afraid their son isn’t going to make it through this weekend,” said Colbert.