YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Several Youngstown council members are saying that due to the growing violence in the city, they want the Youngstown mayor to declare a city-wide emergency.
“One or two deaths is not acceptable at all, but when you get up into 10, 20, or 30, it’s a state of emergency, absolutely something should be done. People have to come together and come up with a plan to make it happen,” said First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver.
Oliver pointed out other cities that have implemented similar declarations and how those cities have progressed, such as Milwaukee.
“I think once you declare it an emergency, it perks everybody’s ears up to the problem. So it no longer becomes a south side issue, an east side issue, a north side issue, it’s a community issue. It’s about all of us. Youngstown, Boardman, Campbell, Austintown, anybody that interacts or does business with the city or comes back and forth through the city, everybody benefits from it being a better place,” Oliver said.
Council members in some other major cities are also pushing for the same, like Philadelphia, which continues to set records with its gun violence.
In 2021, Philadelphia saw 497 fatal shootings; Youngstown had 30. However, when you break down the math of homicides compared to population ratio, Youngstown actually surpassed Philadelphia, with Philadelphia having 31 homicides per 100,000 people and Youngstown coming in at 46 homicides per 100,000 people.
Oliver says declaring a city-wide emergency would allow for extra measures to be taken. He would like to see hospitals, universities and organizations in and around Youngstown working together to tackle the issue of violence and poverty.
Seventh-Ward Councilwoman Basia Adamzack holds a similar stance and would like to see a city-wide emergency declared.
“We need to adopt this comprehensive plan that coordinates public, private, nonprofit, and community partners to end gun violence. As this is most certainly a public health crisis,” she said in a statement. “At the very least if he won’t do the formality of a city-wide emergency, then to adopt a strategic plan and specifically ask for outside help to step in and help us.”
Councilman Mike Ray says something has to be done, whether it’s a state of emergency or something else. But, he says he’s not opposed to it.
Adamzack says the suggestion of a city-wide emergency declaration will be discussed at the next safety committee meeting and then will be presented before council as a whole to possibly adopt a resolution.
Youngstown’s city charter, 509.11 Civil Emergency explains the mayor’s authority to determine if an emergency exists and the steps he can take to act on it.
Oliver said he looks forward to speaking to the mayor about it and coming up with a solution.
We reached out to Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown, to find out his stance on the issue, but have not heard back.