YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown Police Department is cracking down on crime in the downtown area and part of that initiative is keeping people from loitering or panhandling.
Last week, police worked to clean up homeless encampments known as “Tent City” after a fire there left a mess. Now, Youngstown’s Community Police unit says they will be walking around downtown to put an end to panhandling, public intoxication, open container and public urination.
Seven people were arrested downtown last Friday night. Youngstown Police Officer Joe Moran said people were charged for open containers, possession of marijuana and begging.
Youngstown Police Sgt. Pat Kelly said stopping people from loitering keeps the area clean and safe for residents and visitors.
“It’s just another tool we can use. I mean, we can tell you to move, and if you don’t, we can charge you with disorderly conduct, but it’s just another tool we can use to clean up downtown Youngstown,” he said.
Kelly says the work is being done in phases.
The first was cleaning up Tent City. Now, it’s having a police force downtown. Next, social services gets involved.
Business owners, like Al Adi of Downtown Circle, say it was much-needed.
“What I’ve seen in the past week is something I haven’t seen in a long time. There has been a lot of arrests. The word has been around. Everybody on the streets knows police mean business, and downtown is going to be cleaned up,” he said.