July 16, 2018
On one of those
particularly hot nights earlier this month, a Columbus police officer was
answering a run in the parking lot of a business in the Hilltop. He noticed a car at the end of the lot with
its hazard lights on, so he approached it.
A woman driving
the car had run out of gas. She was at the center to pick up a friend so they
could get to their jobs at a local fast food place. Now they were stuck – no
gas, no way to get to their jobs.
drove them to a nearby station where they put $3 worth of gas in a gas can,
then back to their car. They were able to make it to their shifts and keep
moving forward in trying to turn their lives around.
I know the
story because I happened to be doing a ride along that night, seeing first-hand
what our officers see every night. Personal interaction with residents is a big
part of it, even when it doesn’t involve policing per se.
One of my top
priorities since taking office has been to make our neighborhoods safer – the
same priority shared by the outstanding public servants who wear the police
In November, I
announced the Comprehensive Neighborhood Safety Strategy. We have been
implementing its initiatives ever since. We have a long way to go, but we are
moving the needle in a positive direction.
expanded the Safe Street bike patrol to the Hilltop, Linden and South Side.
These police officers have made hundreds of connections with residents –
something they say is easier to do on a bike than from a patrol car. Because of
that community interaction, Safe Streets officers have received hundreds of
tips from residents and made great strides in arrests, drug confiscation and
removing guns from the street.
continues to be one of the major challenges in keeping our neighbors safe. More
than half of all homicides are committed with firearms and hundreds more people
are injured through gun violence. To
further address this unacceptable violence, we are entering into an agreement
with ShotSpotter for a neighborhood gunfire detection system.
We are engaging
ShotSpotter for a gunfire detection system as a demonstration program in the
Hilltop, Linden and the South Side. Agencies that have adopted ShotSpotter
Technology as part of a comprehensive crime-reduction strategy have reported
reductions in urban gunfire by up to 80 percent and related violent crime by as
much as 40 percent. This will help our law enforcement respond to incidents of
gunfire, speed aid to victims, assist in investigations and the collection of
evidence, and ultimately, the apprehension of dangerous offenders.
Some of the
initiatives of the safety strategy involve more of our city departments than
just Public Safety. Our Department of Neighborhoods has been hard at work
coordinating our first investments into our target neighborhoods. In
conjunction with our Safe Routes to School program, they have identified areas
for additional sidewalk investments. In addition, they have identified
streets for additional lighting and tree canopy reduction . . . because one of
the first steps in providing a safer neighborhood is bringing it out of the
Recreation and Parks Department are rock stars, providing safe places for our
youth as well as job training and job opportunities. This year alone, nearly
75% of Recreation and Parks part-time and seasonal hires includes young people,
ages 15-24. More than 100 of those youth are part of the APPS job readiness
program which provides training, mentorship and job placement. In addition,
Recreation and Parks hosts Cap City Nights Festivals throughout Columbus,
including the next one in Wedgewood on August 4.
The goal of the
Comprehensive Neighborhood Safety Strategy has always been to keep our
communities safe -- and involved. I am thankful for the cooperation and help
from all of our departments, law enforcement officers and community members in
making Columbus a safe, wonderful place to live.