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Safe Community Initiative was big success in 2018

January 23, 2019
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

During the summer of 2018, Boardman Police focused on the Market Street business corridor thanks to a grant for $30,000. The increased patrols in addition to routine presence made an impact on corridor and the hope is to continue that focus.

"In May 2018 the Boardman Police Department instituted a proactive police patrol program called the Safe Community Initiative," Trustee Brad Calhoun said. "One of the focuses of this program was to provide an increased police presence along the business corridor of Market Street (during the active months of summer) in a crime reduction initiative. The increased patrols, used in addition to our routine presence in this area, utilized interdiction techniques and traffic enforcement to deter criminal activity and apprehend individuals involved in illegal activity."

The grant Boardman received to pull off the increased presence came from the Coalition for a Drug Free Mahoning County.

During the grant period, Boardman officers working under this program conducted 964 traffic stops/pedestrian contacts, issued 162 citations, and made 56 arrests specifically along the Market Street corridor. Boardman officer's proactive efforts resulted in the apprehension of various subjects in possession of illegal narcotics, subjects with outstanding warrants, drug traffickers, and subjects found to be in possession of stolen or unauthorized use of vehicles.

"The above results were in addition to the existing focus by the Boardman Police Department on this area of the Township," Calhoun said in a press release." The safety along the Market Street corridor to include the surrounding neighborhoods remains a focus. We'll continue to prioritize existing resources and seek out additional avenues such as this grant to continue our work in this area."

For Boardman Police Chief Todd Werth, the grant and Market Street corridor program went along with his goal of keeping neighborhoods and commercial areas safe, a goal he mentioned when he was hired last year.

"During the interview process, one of many questions the Trustees had was about my thoughts on ensuring our neighborhoods and commercial areas remained safe," he said. "This carried over after I was hired and one of their focuses and direction was to especially address the Market Street corridor in Boardman. I've always been struck by the visibility of Boardman officers out on the streets whether that was in a neighborhood or around our shopping areas. This initiative was just an extension of that with obtaining additional funding to increase our presence in the neighborhoods and stores along Market Street."

Werth said the presence of a police officer has a significant affect and his department is also working now to implement additional measures in the area.

"Increased engagement with the community/businesses, better use of analytics to focus resources, and a continued increased presence in that area is how we'll move forward in the future," Werth said. "We will definitely apply for the grant again next year. It had a significant impact and I believe that we were able to measure the positive impact of the grant. The department is actively pursuing several grants to enhance enforcement, training, and equipment. It is a good thing anytime we can leverage resources outside of our normal budget. This enables us to try to keep the cost down for the taxpayer while still providing a service and having an impact on the safety of the community."

Werth said the opioid issues that the country faces has had an impact in every community. Boardman is no different and that is something he spends a lot of time and resources addressing. The drug problem drives several other things that his department faces in the area. He gave an example that most of the property crime in Boardman can be linked to drug addiction. This is one of those problems were there is no one solution. He said it needs to be addressed through enforcement, treatment and prevention/education.

"The different professions to include law enforcement work very hard on this problem," he said. "I believe we do a decent job in this area coordinating efforts, but that is an area where we'll continue to focus on."

With his first year as Police Chief under his belt, Werth said he can't say enough about the professionalism of the men and women of the Boardman Police Department.

"I get a front row seat watching what they do on a daily basis and the impact they have on the safety of our community," he said. "Most of that goes unnoticed, however the community has always been very supportive of the Police Department. That appreciation often comes in many forms to include a quick thank you post on our Facebook site, a call to the Department, or someone simply thanking one of our officers on the street. Those little things have a big impact for us. In addition to the community, the Boardman Trustees are extremely supportive along with the other Township Departments. I believe this all lays the groundwork for us continuing to be an excellent department that keeps our community safe."

One new program that is underway involves records. The department has purchased new software that will have a positive impact on how business is handled every day. The new software will enable easier sharing of information with the public. It will help with crime mapping, analytics, crime alerts and more that can be shared with the public while adhering to legal requirements that protect witnesses, victims, and uncharged suspects.

"We continue to look at technology and other ways to become more efficient," Werth said. "However, it still comes down to having an officer on the street in our community who is well supported by detectives, dispatchers, and the administration. This has always been the strength of the Boardman Police Department and will continue to be our focus."



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