Safety Summit joins forces to keep streets safe

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A community safety summit was held Saturday where local, state and federal agents came together with residents to discuss ways to keep neighborhoods safe.

“It’s about bringing our strengths and some of the funding that we have that maybe some of the smaller departments lack,” said Todd Werth, from the Youngstown office of the FBI. “The experience and expertise they have, like the knowledge of the community, the streets, and the individuals that are in the communities.”

The summit, organized by the ICU Block Watch and St. Dominic’s Church, allowed residents an opportunity to talk one-on-one with police about crimes that are plaguing their neighborhoods.

“A lot of people want to be able to share information without it being put out publicly,” said Victoria Allen, ICU Block Watch president.

During the summit, an officer with the Mahoning County Violent Crime Task Force was assigned to each block watch group.

Youngstown resident Jerry O’Hara attends the summit every year and thinks assigning the officers is good idea.

“We can give them an idea of what’s going on in the neighborhood, a close up from people that live here,” said O’Hara. “They’re showing interest that they want to clean up the neighborhoods and make it a more pleasant place to live.”

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni grew up near St. Dominic’s Church. He said he is working on funding to improve the quality of life in his old neighborhood and throughout the city.

“It’s a part that’s struggling, but we’re trying to revitalize it in a number of different ways by trying to invest more money in the police force, trying to deal with blighted neighborhoods, trying to get people to take action in their communities and take pride in what they have,” said Schiavoni.

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