Amid Homicide Spike, Mayor Ginther Outlines Efforts To Reduce Gun Violence
As Columbus sees its 111th homicide this year — already more than the total number of homicides in 2016 — Mayor Andrew Ginther announced he would expand existing efforts to reduce gun violence in the city.
Ginther said certain pilot programs would be continued or expanded, including Safe Streets, a community policing program in the Linden neighborhood that utilizes officers on bike patrol and reduced gun violence by 55 percent. In addition, 300 police officers will receive crisis intervention training, with the goals of half of all Columbus Police officers having the training by 2020.
The public health department has been brought in under the CARE Coalition, which launched this year and takes a public health approach to tracking and preventing gun violence. In addition, Parks and Recreation will continue running a job readiness program for Columbus youth, and the Court of Common Pleas will manage a mentoring program called Safe Neighborhoods.
Ginther says his approach to solving the escalation in homicides will not rely on just the police department, but involve all city departments and community leaders.
"We can't police our way out of this," Ginther said. "We have to make sure that...we're aligned on tackling community and neighborhood violence together."
Columbus Police report that 70 percent of victims are African-American men between the ages of 18 and 40. More than half of these cases report having no known motive or suspect. According to Public Safety Director Ned Pettus, this is due to lack of trust by the communities most affected by gun violence.
"We could do better if we had more cooperation, more collaboration, if people trusted more they probably would help us more," Pettus said.
Ginther plans to unveil new programs and policies at his budget hearing with City Council next week.