Shootings trigger look at options

STEUBENVILLE – City Police will be collaborating with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and the Ohio State Highway Patrol to beef up a law enforcement presence following three unrelated shootings in the past two weeks.

City Manager Cathy Davison said Thursday afternoon the highway patrol and the sheriff deputies will patrol the main thoroughfares, while City Police will spend more time in the neighborhoods.

We already have a very good relationship with both agencies but this additional collaboration will be fantastic. It gives us a greater law enforcement presence in the city and sends a strong message to criminals,” said Davison.

“I have been in touch with the governor’s office and talked to state Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) this morning and will be talking to state Sen. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) on Monday on how we can combat violent crime. If we don’t get these violent incidents under control it will be a tough summer,” said Davison.

The recent outburst of violent crimes started April 16 when an altercation that started at a Mingo Junction bar ended with a man shot at Lincoln and Tweed avenues.

Zachary Willis, 33 of 1175 county Road 28, Steubenville, remains in a Pittsburgh hospital today after he was shot.

Three men were arrested in connection to that incident.

Two days later a Chicago man was killed and his cousin was wounded during a Friday afternoon shooting on Pittsburgh Street.

Three Chicago men were arrested and are waiting extradition to Steubenville.

One day later an 18-year old Steubenville man was arrested after he allegedly robbed a woman at gunpoint and then exchanged gunfire with responding police officers.

“We reached a turning point in our collaborative crackdown on criminal activity last year when we started meeting on a regular basis with the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority. The JMHA is taking a very active eviction approach to any criminal activity involving their tenants and we are sharing information with each other,” said Davison.

“We don’t want any criminal activity in our city and we intend to step up our police activities to fight crime. The police department is currently preparing to add another officer to their department. And our police chief and department are always looking at ways to be more efficient,” she said.

Davison said she is not sure if traffic surveillance cameras are the right answer at this point in time.

“Right now there is a bill in the Ohio House of Representatives to outlaw traffic cameras.While I don’t agree with purchasing a traffic camera system at this time because of the pending legislation under consideration in Columbus, I will do what City Council members want to do,” said Davison.