Don’t Send In National Guard

Steubenville has been wracked by violent crime, much of it related to illegal drugs, for months. Gunfire is a regular occurrence. Without more law enforcement officers, the city Police Department cannot deal with the situation adequately, warns the head of the local officers’ union.

So, should Gov. John Kasich be asked to send Ohio National Guard troops to Steubenville to keep the peace?

Emphatically, no.

Asked about the possibility of requesting National Guard troops, Steubenville City Manager Cathy Davison this week said “it is an option.”

If city officials ask Kasich for help, he should consider the request carefully. Perhaps the state can assign more law enforcement officers to Steubenville. For that matter, it may be that the federal government can help.

But National Guard troops lack the law enforcement training provided to most civilian police officers and sheriff’s deputies. While they certainly could supply additional firepower in what has become a near-war against violent criminals, Steubenville needs much more than an edge in gunfights to solve its problem.

Don’t get us wrong: Ohio National Guard troops are highly trained and capable – for the tasks they are intended to handle. Civilian law enforcement, except, perhaps, in riot control, is not one of them.

It also needs to be remembered that the type of hoodlums plaguing Steubenville are masters in keeping their heads down when danger threatens them. Certainly, National Guard patrols in city streets might keep things quiet for a few weeks. But once the troops leave, the thugs will come back out with guns blazing.

These murderous pushers need to be arrested, not just intimidated temporarily. If Kasich can provide help for Steubenville, it should be with the goal of accomplishing that.