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Columbus To Provide $400,000 For Two Crime-Reduction Programs

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther speaks at a press conference announcing funding for two Franklin County crime-prevention programs on July 22, 2021.
Michael Lee
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WOSU
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther speaks at a press conference announcing funding for two Franklin County crime-prevention programs on July 22, 2021.

The City of Columbus announced Thursday morning it is funding for two crime-prevention initiatives run by Franklin County.

The city will evenly split $400,000 between two programs run by the Franklin County Municipal Court and the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office. One provides services for criminally at-risk youth and the other aims to decrease illegal gun possession.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said he hopes the programs will not only decrease gun violence, but put individuals on a "brighter path" before they commit crimes.

"We can and we will reduce crime and violence by stepping up, banding together and taking action on a variety of fronts," Ginther said.

Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Jessica D'Varga runs the Unleashing Potential program that will receive $200,000. The program provides services such as behavioral health services, housing and education and workforce development for criminally at-risk young adults.

"I am so committed to the success of this program," D'Varga said. "I am committed to continuing to support the youth in our community so that they can truly unleash their endless potential."

As for the other program, David Ingram, first assistant prosecuting attorney for the Franklin County Prosecutor, said the funding will allow them to not only focus harder on prosecuting gun cases, but also increase the number of prosecutors on the gun unit from six to eight. The additional two members will come from the grand jury unit of the prosecutor's office.

"We have an obligation to do whatever we can to keep the residents of this county safe," Ingram said. "This is us doing our part. And believe me, this is just the beginning of what we will do."

Ginther said both programs are already primarily funded by the county, while Thursday's announcement would allocate city resources to expand them. City Council will vote on legislation to approve the funding on Monday.