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"Ohio Attorney General's Office Safe Neighborhoods Initiative" Expands to Ashtabula


(ASHTABULA, Ohio) -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Ashtabula City Solicitor Michael Franklin, Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nicholas Iarocci, Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell, and Ashtabula City Manager Jim Timonere announced today that Ashtabula will be the next community to join the "Ohio Attorney General's Office Safe Neighborhoods Initiative."

Attorney General DeWine launched the initiative, which is also underway in four other cities, in an effort to assist communities in addressing violence caused by repeat violent offenders.

"After learning earlier this year of a home invasion that led to the death of a mother and son, we reached out to city leaders to offer our help in protecting families in this community," said Attorney General DeWine.  "Right now we are working to identify Ashtabula's most violent offenders, and we'll later meet with those individuals to give them the opportunity to walk away from the culture of crime and to outline the very serious consequences they'll face if they decide instead to commit another violent act."

“I cannot thank Police Chief Stell and Attorney General DeWine enough for bringing this program to our city," said Ashtabula City Manager Jim Timonere.  "The Chief and I had the opportunity to see this performed in Warren, and it was extremely powerful. We are anxious to get started and hope for positive results.”

“I am very much looking forward to this program coming to the City of Ashtabula and building lasting partnerships with local churches, organizations and community leaders as we go forward," said Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell. "I am extremely pleased that State Attorney General Mike DeWine is bringing this to our community."

“The recent spike in drug-related violence in Ashtabula City did not happen overnight.  Ashtabula has become a nesting place for seriously-violent drug offenders over the past few years, so we must think ‘outside of the box’ to attempt to get control of a very volatile situation," said Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nicholas Iarocci.  "This initiative is a direct result of that type of forward-thinking by community leaders.”

“Between 2012 and 2013 the Ashtabula Municipal Court experienced a 10 percent increase in felony cases. That translates to about 45 additional serious crimes, or almost one per week," said Ashtabula City Solicitor Michael Franklin .  "Over 90 percent of those cases were drug- and drug-violence-related. This program holds out a good deal of promise to stop and even reverse that trend, so I am very excited about it.”

The "Ohio Attorney General's Office Safe Neighborhoods Initiative" was developed after a study commissioned as part of Ohio Attorney General DeWine's Violent Crimes with Guns Advisory Group found that, between 1974-2010,  57 percent of violent crime was committed by less than 1 percent of Ohio's population.

The initiative assists local authorities in identifying the small percentage of individuals responsible for the most crime in their community, and "call-in" meetings are then held with those individuals as a requirement of their probation or parole.  At each meeting, offenders meet with local, state, and federal law enforcement, religious leaders, and medical professionals who outline the consequences for continued acts of violence, such as lengthy prison terms and medical complications from gunshot wounds.  The offenders also hear from those who have lost a loved one to violence.

The individuals are given the opportunity to take part in job training and alcohol and drug rehabilitation, and other social services are offered to assist them in leaving the cycle of crime.

The strategies used in the initiative have been successful in separate programs across the country to produce drastic reductions in gun-related crime.  In Cincinnati, a similar effort led to a 41 percent drop in gang homicides and a 22 percent decrease in other violent firearm incidents.

The "Attorney General's Office Safe Neighborhoods Initiative" is also in operation in Akron, Steubenville, Warren, and Lima, where, so far, the individuals who have participated in the "call-ins" are not known to have committed additional serious acts of violence.

The initiative is part of an overall effort by Attorney General DeWine to combat gun crime involving violent career criminals.  In April 2013, Attorney General DeWine and State Senator Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) announced the Violent Career Criminal Act, which, if signed into law, would increase the length of prison sentences for specific repeat violent offenders.  The act is co-sponsored by Senator Frank LaRose (R-Copley).

The following agencies are taking part in the Ashtabula initiative:  Ashtabula Police Department, City of Ashtabula, Ashtabula Solicitor's Office, Ashtabula Municipal Court, Ashtabula County Sheriff's Office, Ashtabula County Prosecutor's Office, Ashtabula County Probation Department, New Hope Church of God in Christ, New Hope Pentecostal Church, Community Counseling Center of Ashtabula, Community Action of Ashtabula, The Samaritan House, A-100 Group, Kent State University Ashtabula Campus, Ohio Adult Parole Authority, U.S. Attorney's Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Marshals Office.


Media Contacts:

Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Jill Del Greco: 614-466-3840

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