Local law officials say predicting gun violence is difficult


Even though people with mental health problems who commit crimes are monitored, Sheriff Greene says you can't always know if or when they will "break"

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine detailed his newly-released plan to reduce gun violence. Law officials in Youngstown said they’re seeing proposals like this more and more often.

“People who have mental health challenges, alcohol or drug problems, have violent tendencies and have access to firearms,” DeWine said.

He called it a deadly combination.

The governor laid out his plan Tuesday to address violence like what we saw in Dayton and El Paso over the weekend.

DeWine’s proposal includes:
– New safety protection orders removing guns from potentially dangerous individuals
– Increased access to in-patient psychiatric care
– Early intervention programs to address social and emotional challenges for students
– Background checks for all gun sales in Ohio
– Increased penalties for a variety of gun-related crimes
– Social media monitoring from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, which would share information with local schools and law enforcement
– Several safety and intervention programs for schools and communities

Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said proposals like this are becoming more common.

“The biggest problem we’re having right now is mental health and many times, it’s so difficult to get an individual adjudicated with a mental health problem.”

While one of DeWine’s proposals would allow deputies and police to ask a judge to order someone suspected of having behavioral problems into treatment, the current system allows doctors to overrule law enforcement.

“The doctor at the hospital views them, talks to them and then says they’re not in imminent danger, in imminent danger of hurting somebody else and lets them go,” Judge Robert Rusu said.

In May, the judge initiated what he calls his “Fresh Start” program where people in counseling, along with their case managers, meet with court staff to make sure their treatment is being followed.

Sheriff Greene has a program in the jail called “Stepping Up” to help those with mental health issues. Still, he admits screenings and background checks can only do so much.

“Then he gets looked at and they determine him to be OK,” Greene said. “How do we know when a person like that is going to break?”

While both the sheriff and judge welcome the state’s help, they stress solutions will require all sides working together.

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