EAST LIVERPOOL - A police raid on an Avondale Street Thursday morning was based on numerous complaints about foot traffic in and out of the rental home, and police said it won't be the last of such operations.
"Chief (John) Lane is taking a zero-tolerance approach policy to drugs, and he has made it clear that he wants everyone (on the force) following this approach," city police Capt. Pat Wright said after officers converged on the home of Daniela Gilbert.
Officers have been trying to stem the tide of the drug trade that has taken over the area, Wright said, pointing to a "running list" of homes posted on the squad room bulletin board that are considered known drug houses.
"We're watching. If we receive a call (about possible drug activity), we're going to respond. It's no longer going to be (a case of telling callers), 'Call the drug task force.' If we don't respond, call the chief and let him know," Wright advised the community.
Unfortunately, those dealing in drugs are learning to adapt to the system and avoid arrest, according to Wright, who said, "They bounce from house to house. One week they're in Wellsville, then they're in Calcutta, then (here), knowing eventually their door's going to be kicked in."
Many of those being seen in the city are coming from out of the area, from as far as New Jersey and Columbus, and police said two local families can be blamed for bringing that element into town.
Citing the city's location at the corner of three states, Lane lamented, "We get them from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, from all over."
Saying that statistics indicate 75 percent of crime is traffic-related, Wright said officers will be watching for vehicles in which a driver has made an infraction, because often those inside the vehicle are involved in drug-related activity.
"We're going to stop every car, every chance we get," Wright warned.
And, while residents often complain they are not seeing enough drug arrests being made, Wright and Lane wanted the community to know that "something is being done, even though you don't always see it. Our guys are busting their butts."
They encouraged residents to call in tips about drug activity or other crime to the police department at 330-385-1234, extension 2 or to the task force in Youngstown at 330-729-7800, with Wright again emphasizing officers will respond to all such complaints, offering the caveat that they also will still have to divide their time among other calls and duties.