City Leaders Outline Summer Safety Initiatives

Published on June 01, 2023

Short North Streetscape

The end of the school year marks the unofficial start of summer in Columbus, and today Mayor Andrew J. Ginther was joined by leaders from the Columbus Division of Police and Recreation and Parks Department to announce the city’s summer safety strategy.

“There’s a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks in our community: festivals, concerts, Pride, parades, Boom, camps, pools and more,” said Mayor Ginther. “Know that we are committed to doing all that we can to ensure a safe and successful summer – particularly for our children, teens and youth. That is why we are, once again, making unprecedented investments in summer programming to provide fun and engagement through structure and stability.”

That includes $20.1 million for summer programming in partnership with Columbus City Council, including $9 million going to more than 90 community organizations. These groups offer safe, constructive opportunities for youth to learn, grow and stay active, and include programs like ReRoute and TAPS (Teen and Police Service Academy) that are specifically designed to steer kids away from violence and other dangerous behaviors.

The city is also bolstering policing city-wide, through initiatives including “Operation Moonlight,” “Operation Burnout,” and “Safe Streets.”

“Operation Moonlight” will put up to 40 additional officers in high-visibility areas during key times throughout the summer. That means dozens of extra boots on the ground, when and where they are needed most. This represents a total cost commitment of $2 million, up from $1.6 million last year.

“Operation Burnout” targets the reckless operation of motor vehicles, “take-overs” of city streets, businesses and private properties, along with related criminal activities. This has been successfully rolled out over the last month in multiple parts of the city. Over the last two weekends in the Short North, “Operation Burnout” resulted in 10 felony arrests, 45 misdemeanor arrests/summons, seven weapons recovered, five incidents of drugs seized, nine curfew summons and 202 vehicles impounded.

“We are pleased with these results because those numbers are down week over week. That means the community heard and heeded our warnings: that violent, disruptive behavior of any kind will not be tolerated,” said Columbus Police First Assistant Chief LaShanna Potts. “But more importantly, we saw two weekends in a row without violence in one of our most densely packed, heavily visited neighborhoods. Our goal is not arrests and citations: it is safety. And by that measure, ‘Operation Burnout’ has been an unqualified success.”

Based on these promising results, this weekend the city will scale back parking restrictions to allow street parking along the southbound lanes of High Street between Goodale and Fifth Avenue. Street parking along the northbound lanes of High Street will still not be permitted after 10 p.m.

The popular “Safe Streets” program will also return this summer. Teams of bike officers will work together across the city in every zone, both engaging the community and conducting enforcement activity. These officers will be highly visible and eager to interact with the community.

Last year during “Safe Streets,” officers:

  • Checked 375 businesses, churches and schools
  • Attended 169 community events
  • Worked 523 hours attending community meetings and events
  • Made 107 felony arrests
  • Seized 96 firearms
  • And spent more than 2,000 hours on their bikes

This year “Safe Streets” will be enhanced by the addition of CPD’s newly created 6th Patrol Zone. Adding this new zone has helped police balance calls for service across the city. This has more evenly distributed the workloads of patrol officers, creating opportunities for stronger relationships between officers and the neighbors they serve.

Supporting these efforts, Sunday the Division of Police will have 29 brand-new officers completing their training and hitting the streets.

Thanks to funding approved by Columbus City Council, safety efforts in Columbus parks are once again being bolstered by 25 portable camera towers and 7 light towers. These cameras can be monitored in real-time and relocated as needed in consultation between CPD and Columbus Recreation and Parks. 

The city also asks for the continued vigilance and partnership of parents and guardians to do everything they can to keep their kids and teens safe. Per city code, everyone between the ages of 13 and 17 needs to be off the streets from midnight through 4:30 a.m. If families don’t enforce it in their own households, the Columbus Division of Police will.

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