Youngstown police see success with targeted anti-crime program

Local News

The program allowed the department to fund extra patrols in the areas of the South Side which were shown to have the highest crime rates

Southside Summer Experience

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The Youngstown Police Department is planning its next move after completing an anti-crime program on the South Side earlier this year.

For 18 months, the department, along with Youngstown State University and the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., used a $2 million federal grand to run the Community Based Crime Reduction program.

The program allowed the department to fund extra patrols in the areas of the South Side which were shown to have the highest crime rates in the city.

But it also allowed for blight remediation in the area through the YNDC and for special programs such as the South Side Summer Experience and other events for children.

Capt. Jason Simon, who ran the program for the police department, said that the program was a success because it cut down on the crime rate in the target areas of the grant.

The high-crime area targeted by the grant was specifically from Cottage Grove Avenue to Zedaker Street and East Florida Avenue to East Midlothian Boulevard. Statistics show most categories of crime in that neighborhood declined between 2017 and 2018.

Police used five years of call data to determine the hours with the most crimes on specific days of the week. Then, an extra two-officer car was assigned to that area for that block of time.

What the police department terms Part 1 Crimes — murder, felonious assault and robbery — decreased by 17 while the program was being run from April of 2018 to September of 2019. Those crimes in the rest of the city during the 18 months of the program increased by 9.8%.

Overall crimes in the target area decreased by 9%, while in the city, they increased slightly at 1.5%

“The numbers show it was a successful program,” Simon said.

Murders in the target area stayed the same, with two happening during the 18 months of the program. There were two murders in the target area in the 18 months before the CBCR took effect.

The number of robberies decreased by nine, and the number of felonious assaults decreased by one.

Besides analyzing call data, workers with YNDC also surveyed residents and businesses in the target area by going door to door, asking them what their concerns were. Those concerns were then relayed to officers who were working the CBCR patrols, who could then check on those complaints while they were on the road.

YNDC also demolished several vacant houses in the target area. One of the biggest complaints in the surveys taken by YNDC workers was blight.

“We can not do this job alone,” Simon said.

Chief Robin Lees said he wants to see the program continue and is looking for a way to get other funds through the YNDC to continue it in some fashion.

“There is enough success with that program that we certainly would want to continue it,” Lees said. “It’s clear that it enhanced our communications with the community. It’s a model that we want to use again.”

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