Linden Neighborhood Conversation

Robin Davis
Director of Media Relations

Melanie Crabill
Communications Manager

Media advisory
News Date: November 01, 2017

Mayor Ginther and Members of His Administration Roll Out Public Safety Strategy

Today, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and members of his administration, including Chief of Police Kim Jacobs and Director of Public Safety Ned Pettus, Jr., described the first steps in a comprehensive strategy for reducing violent crime and improving community-police relations. 

“Public Safety is the top priority for Columbus families – it’s my number one priority, too. We dedicate two-thirds, or $577 million of the operating budget to police and fire,” said Mayor Ginther. “Despite these investments for new police classes, crisis and de-escalation training, and technology such as body-worn cameras, we have seen a significant increase in homicides this year.  As your mayor, I’m deeply saddened by this loss of life and see the trauma it has caused families and neighbors in our great city.”

The impact of violence has a disproportionate impact on minority communities. In Columbus, more than 70 percent of the homicide victims this year have been African-American men between the ages of 18 and 40, and more than 80 percent were victims of gun violence.

At the same time, approximately half of the homicides remain unsolved, with nearly as many with no known motive or suspect. 

“The stark reality is many in our community say their faith is shaken, leading to strained relationships between the community and the police. It is our collective responsibility to renew our community’s faith,” said Mayor Ginther.   

Over the past month, Mayor Ginther hosted small community meetings to hear challenges and solutions from residents across Columbus. After these conversations and a focused study of policies and initiatives, Mayor Ginther and his administration announced programs started in the last year that have been successful and will be continued or expanded:

• Safe Streets: Last summer, the Columbus Division of Police launched a pilot program in Linden that used bike patrol officers to engage residents and build relationships in an effort to prevent violent crime and gather information that would help hold those responsible for violent crimes accountable. The results were overwhelmingly positive. There was a reduction in the number of assaults and aggravated assaults and 55% decrease in reported gun violence. In addition, the police made more than 2000 resident contacts and more than 100 crime tips. 
• Crisis Intervention Training (CIT):  We will increase training courses for CIT training to 300 Columbus police officers in the coming year with a goal of having 50 percent of all police officers trained by 2020. We will also mandate CIT training for all Columbus police cadets.
• Engage the community in the selection of police officers, increasing the diversity of our safety forces: In 2017, the City of Columbus added community evaluators to the committees that screen potential police officers and firefighters to help the Columbus Division of Police and the Columbus Division of Fire reflect the great diversity of our city. In addition, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, along with the Division of Police, applied for a Department of Justice grant to expand diversity recruitment and foster better community-police relations. 
• Added new Diversity and Inclusion Liaison Officer for the New American/Muslim community:
This officer will proactively strengthen relationships between the New American/Muslim community and CPD.
• Break the cycle of violence through intense intervention efforts: A program called Safe Neighborhoods is a focused deterrence program launched by City of Columbus and the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. Participants receive intensive counseling, including from crime victims, their families, clergy, medical professionals, police, judges and prosecutors. Participants are offered social services and workforce development as an alternative to re-offending.
• Prevent crime through job training and youth employment:  A Job Readiness Program launched by Recreation and Parks provided 30 young people with employment, job training and mentorship. In partnership with the Franklin County Juvenile Court, we will expand the program to provide a second chance and path to employment for youth with minor infractions.
• Address crime as a public health crisis: The CARE Coalition, launched in 2017, is a multifaceted neighborhood response unit led by Columbus Public Health that provides Community, Action, Resilience and Empowerment by addressing the mental and behavioral trauma of violent crime in the neighborhoods. Columbus Public Health also has funding to track gun violence, identify environmental factors that contribute to gun violence and assess neighborhood impacts.

Mayor Ginther noted that these steps are just the beginning. In the weeks and months ahead, the City will announce additional initiatives and policies to keep families in Columbus safe.