Six murders this year have made it clear Steubenville is in the grip of an epidemic of violence. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has an idea he hopes can make the city safer.
On Tuesday, DeWine announced plans to implement a Safe Neighborhood Initiative in the city. His comments came during a roundtable discussion about crime that included state legislators and local law enforcement officials.
So serious is Steubenville's wave of violence that it is not considered only a municipal problem, police Chief Bill McCafferty said. He said Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla is providing a deputy to patrol some neighborhoods and both the State Highway Patrol and state Bureau of Criminal Investigation are lending a hand.
Even more state help is available, DeWine emphasized after a private meeting with about 25 law enforcement officials. "I can offer from my office help with task forces and the state crime lab," he noted. "I can also offer special prosecutors and special investigators." Local officials should take full advantage of that assistance. Again, this is not just a local problem. Some of the violence can be linked to out-of-town drug dealers.
DeWine outlined the Safe Neighborhood Initiative program, noting it will require community cooperation to work. Part of it involves people on probation or parole and with "a history of gun violence." Local law enforcement officers can "bring them in and tell them we will be watching you," the attorney general explained.
A similar program has been effective in reducing violence in other communities, DeWine said.
Let's hope it helps in Steubenville - as it may. One reason out-of-town drug pushers come to the Ohio Valley is because the climate where they come from has become too hot for them. The same fear needs to be instilled in Steubenville.
While the new initiative may help, DeWine's personal interest in stamping out violence in Steubenville is a good thing. Again, local law enforcement agencies should make use of all the resources the state can furnish - and may want to ask for federal assistance, too.