Media Relations Team
Director of Media Relations
November 10, 2017
We face two great safety challenges in Columbus today: the spike in homicides and the strained relationships between our community and the police.
Public safety is the single biggest financial commitment we make in the city. In 2017, we funded two new police recruit classes, provided crisis intervention training and de-escalation training, and continued outfitting Columbus police officers with body worn cameras.
Despite these investments and many others, I am disturbed by the significant increase in homicides Columbus has experienced 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.
This violence -- gun violence in particular -- is having a disproportionate impact on our 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, many with no known motive or suspect.
The spike in homicides highlights the importance of not only investing in efforts that focus on preventing violent crime, breaking up gang activity and the drug trade, but also engaging the community. The faith and confidence of our residents in police is critical to our ability to keep our neighborhoods safe.
In the last several weeks, I have met with people and organizations across the spectrum: faith leaders, NAACP, the People’s Justice Project, the Fraternal Order of Police, Faith in Public Life, and civic and community leaders from every area of our city. We listened. We heard what our neighbors say is working . . . and what isn’t. We listened not only to the challenges they see, but the solutions they offered.
Yesterday, I announced a Comprehensive Neighborhood Safety Strategy, built on feedback from our community, insights from law enforcement professionals and data-driven, proven practices from other cities. This strategy includes:
• Expanding our successful Safe Streets bike patrol to additional opportunity neighborhoods, including expanding foot patrol.
• Hiring a program manager and four caseworkers for the Community, Action, Resilience and Empowerment (CARE) Coalition to address the ripple effect violent crime has on a neighborhood.
• Expanding the city’s efforts to solve gang- and drug-related homicides in Columbus by directing more officers to investigate unsolved crimes.
• Filling two new police recruits classes, each with 35 recruits.
• More than $500,000 in new initiatives to combat opiate addiction in support of the Franklin County Opiate Action Plan.
• Forming the Violent Crime Review Group to address our unacceptable homicide rate through a focused, multi-departmental review of and response to violent crimes.
• Establishing a new cross-departmental Neighborhood Crisis Response to strengthen neighborhoods by coordinating the resources of our city to create physical deterrents to crime.
• Establishing Neighborhood Safety Committees, led by local Community Liaison Officers and made up of block watch volunteers and community leaders, to review information from the Violent Crime Review Group and give real-time feedback on our neighborhood intervention strategies.
• Creating a Community Safety Advisory Commission to ensure we have the best training, policies and procedures to protect and serve our entire community, as well as seeking an objective, independent consultant to support this work.
These aspects of the safety strategy are in addition to what we announced last week:
• Increased Crisis Intervention Team training courses for Columbus police.
• Continued engagement with the community in the selection of police officers and increasing the diversity of our safety forces.
• Expanded intervention efforts through a program called Safe Neighborhoods, a focused deterrence program launched by the City of Columbus and the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
• Prevention of crime through job training and youth employment through the Department of Recreation and Parks.
The strategy I have laid out is a comprehensive plan. Making our neighborhoods safe is a collaborative effort. We all have a role to play. I look forward to working with Columbus Police, the Division of Fire and all of the departments within the City of Columbus along with residents and faith and business leaders to make every resident in every neighborhood of Columbus safe.