Murder rate declining in Youngstown

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To view a 2013 photo timeline of Youngstown homicides, click here.

The murder rate in Youngstown is the lowest it has been in 35 years. Once known as the murder capital of the United States, the numbers are now telling a different story.

The city is on pace to record the lowest number of homicides since 1978 when there were 18. So far this year, there have been seven homicides, which is a huge departure from the highest number recorded in 1995 with 68.

Youngstown Police Capt. Mark Milstead said there is no pattern or trend. He said the murder rate spikes and declines for many reasons.

“I would like to believe it has something to do with the number of individuals that we believe are suspects in these homicides that are currently incarcerated,” said Milstead.

ICU Block Watch president Victoria Allen said while she is encouraged by the declining numbers, suspicious activity still occurs in the city. She said it is up to residents and neighborhood watch groups to let police know what’s happening.

“It’s one street at a time. If we can just get everyone involved, you know, just going outside and peek out the window to see what’s going on,” said Allen. “If you see something strange, you can always call 911 or Crime Stoppers.”

Local police and ICU Block Watch members met last month for a Safety Summit and talked about ways for police to work with the community in fighting crime. Milstead said the interaction has paid off with the arrest in a recent murder.

One of our recent homicides Willie Wilks was charged. We did receive, which was refreshing, a lot of community support,” said Milstead. “A number of people came forward and with that information we were able to apprehend the person within 24 hours. It’s more often that you do not get that cooperation.”

Allen said the news of the declining homicide numbers is encouraging but says any number is too high.

“I hope there are no more homicides in Youngstown, period. Zero is a great number, and I hope that we try and follow that,” said Allen.

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