YOUNGSTOWN - The city Police Department is continuing to formulate a strategy to combat violent crime.
One of the main trends police Chief Rod Foley wants to combat is retaliation in shootings and homicides. He said that often one shooting or series of events will trigger a rash of other shootings.
To that end, the department is holding a planning session April 16-17 on locating the most violent individuals and groups in the city. Representatives from several other agencies will be in attendance.
Of the city's eight homicides this year, about half of them were retaliation for other shootings, Foley said.
''Many times, there's a trigger episode,'' Foley said. ''We have to deter. Our job is disrupting these groups before they start.''
And that could include the use of what Foley termed ''peacemakers,'' or people or groups to counsel gangs against any violence, including retaliation.
Community involvement will be key for those people, but he acknowledged that police can't stop all homicides, or even all gang-related homicides.
Putting a lid on trouble once it starts is a key to clamping down on violent crime, Foley said.
He said part of the work he has to do to stop the retaliation is change the perception of the police in the community because often people would rather take care of matters themselves than let the police handle them.
''It's hard for us to just get them to stop because they don't always fear us,'' Foley said.
On the law enforcement end, Foley said several different agencies, including state and federal, will be assisting Youngstown police.
City Council Safety Committee Chairman Nathan Pinkard, D-3rd Ward, and former chief of Mill Creek MetroParks Police, said he likes laying out a strategy because he thinks an holistic approach is often needed to solve some problems.
''We have to give alternatives so we don't succumb to the violence,'' Pinkard said.