Off-campus shooting sparks safety solutions

One day after an off-campus shooting took the life of student Jamail Johnson and injured 11 others, Gov. John Kasich spoke on campus to offer solutions to a shaken community.

Kasich came equipped with solutions for Youngstown, including plans to cultivate a relationship with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Public Safety, and to make an effort to enhance gun and alcohol control. 

“I will do everything that I can. I can’t turn water into wine, and I can’t promise the moon, but there are some specific things that we can do to help. We stand ready and willing to partner with you to make this community stronger, safer and more prosperous,” Kasich said in a press conference one year ago. “Johnson will not have died in vain.”

Youngstown State University President Cynthia Anderson said she gives Kasich a lot of credit.

“He set up meetings with us in Columbus to talk with the department of safety,” she said. Anderson attended those meetings the same week as the shooting. “He literally must have made the calls while he was up here.”

According to statistics released by the Youngstown Police Department, the violent crime rate dropped in 2011. 

In 2010, 673 violent crimes were committed in Youngstown. There were 569 in 2011.

Murder, forcible rape, aggravated assault and robbery classify as violent crime. 

Rob Nichols, Kasich’s press secretary, said there are plans for the Ohio State Highway Patrol to work in conjunction with the Youngstown Police Department. The announcement for the collaboration will be made in the near future. 

Nichols said the collaboration would strengthen safety in the area and focus on controlling firearms and liquor.

“We feel very strongly about safety,” Nichols said. “This was such a tragedy, and it was important for [Kasich] to be there.”

Lt. Michael Cretella of the Youngstown State University Police Department said the university has a close relationship with the Youngstown Police Department. 

“We let them know what’s going on, and they let us know what is going on,” Cretella said. 

As part of their rules and regulations, the YSU Police Department regularly patrols events and house parties of sanctioned fraternities.

Cretella said that in the event a non-sanctioned fraternity would request patrol, YSU Police would work something out. 

“We do not want to see anyone get hurt,” Cretella said. “We want them to have a successful event.”

Cretella said he would like to see more officers on patrol in order to work even closer with the Youngstown Police Department.  

Anderson said that YSU was safe before the incident occurred. 

“We were all given a wake-up call of how precious someone’s life is. We realize what a hero Jamail is,” Anderson said. 

Anderson also plans to create a Center for Nonviolence at YSU.

“This is something I really want to look into,” Anderson said. She added that she has heard of other universities with groups that have benefited from similar programs. 

“If we can engage students, then we can learn to value respect, life and one another. You’ve heard me say this a million times before, but I believe that our students teach us every day,” Anderson said.