Wednesday, October 6, 2010
By Elise Franco
Township leaders hope a new safety plan will help real-estate agents feel more at ease while showing houses in Austintown neighborhoods.
The Austintown Police Department, with the cooperation of the township trustees and the Youngstown Columbiana Association of Realtors, announced a plan Tuesday to help keep agents safe while working in Austintown.
Police Chief Bob Gavalier said Realtors are asked to call the police department at 330-799-7921 before an open house begins, letting dispatchers know the time and location. They’re also asked to provide a description of their vehicle and a cell-phone number.
“In return, a cruiser assigned to the area would keep a closer watch on the Realtor’s location,” Gavalier said in a news release Tuesday.
The real-estate agent also is asked to contact the department at the end of the open house.
“It’s going to make the community safer for the people working here,” Gavalier said. “It’s not a foolproof plan, but it’s something the department can give back without sacrificing a lot of man-hours.”
Gavalier said the program won’t cost the department anything extra.
Trustee James Davis said he approached Gavalier about implementing a safety plan after the death of real-estate agent Vivian Martin in Youngstown. The 67-year-old Realtor was robbed and murdered Sept. 20 in a Nelson Avenue home before the building was set on fire with her body inside.
Robert Brooks, 25, of Castalia Avenue and Grant Cooper, 21, of Sulgrave Drive, Brookfield, have been indicted by a Mahoning County grand jury on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and aggravated arson. The charges have death-penalty specifications.
Davis said everyone should feel protected while in the township.
“If we can keep it out of Austintown and take a proactive approach, hopefully it won’t happen here in Austintown,” he said. “I’d like to see it not happen at all, but you and I both know that won’t happen.”
David Klacik, president of YCAR, said he’d like to see all real-estate agents learn more about this plan so they can take full advantage of it.
“In today’s world, we have to be more conscientious,” he said. “It’s an absolute must to keep being proactive for the safety and security of fellow Realtors.”
Klacik said he’d like to see this type of plan implemented in other surrounding communities.