Steubenville Councilwoman Angela Suggs is right to be looking far down the road in terms of curbing violence in her city. At the same time, however, local officials should be cracking down hard on street thugs, before Steubenville residents find themselves mourning the same kind of loss that occurred last week in Toledo.
There, someone on a city street opened fire with a gun, in a scenario not unlike what has happened in Steubenville several times during the past few months. But in Toledo, bullets went through the sliding glass door of an apartment, into a living room. A 1-year-old girl was killed by the gunfire. Her 2-year-old sister was badly wounded.
Toledo police have made two arrests in the case, but that came too late to save the two children - babies, really - shot by someone like the hoodlums who have terrorized some residents of Steubenville.
During a City Council meeting this week, Suggs recommended establishing "a task force for a crime prevention initiative."
"We need to reduce the violence in our community by reducing unemployment rates and encouraging more young African-American men to pursue higher education," Suggs explained, adding, "We are giving the local drug dealers a very good work force because of the high unemployment rates."
Indeed, actions such as Suggs suggests can have an impact on crime rates - but only in the long term. Clearly, a cadre of hard-core, vicious criminals already is present in Steubenville. No doubt some of the violence there is caused by out-of-town thugs, too.
Local law enforcement agencies have made some arrests in street shootings and have mounted their own campaign to stop the violence. Only apprehending those responsible and putting them in prison - for lengthy terms - will help keep Steubenville residents safe in the near future.
So, while Suggs' idea is a good one, it needs to be paired with a continuing emphasis on apprehending and punishing severely those responsible for the current reign of terror.