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Cincinnati Police Chief Addresses Recent Gun Violence: 'We Need Help And Support'

Jolene Almendarez
Chief of Cincinnati Police Eliot Isaac, left, center, makes his presentation to City Council Tuesday, June 22 at City Hall.

Cincinnati residents saw the highest number of fatal shootings on record last year, and recent gun violence in the city should act as a reminder that summer is just getting started — there have been 183 shootings this year compared to 215 last year around the same time.

Earlier this month, two children — ages 6 and 8 — were shot during a dispute. Monday, three people were shot in broad daylight in East Price Hill. One man died.

Police Chief Eliot Isaac told the Law and Public Safety Committee Tuesday that officers have been able to curtail the number of shootings by focusing on getting illegal guns off the streets.

"About 750 guns recovered and we're not all the way through June, which is a significant increase," Isaac said. "Typically, we average about 550 guns this time of year." 

There were roughly 650 guns confiscated by police at this time last year. That includes the seizure of semi-automatic rifles and pistols.

"So, not the cheap Saturday night specials that we saw very early in my career," he said. "We're seeing expensive guns. These are being introduced in our communities and used to commit violent crime."

So far this year, a handgun was used in 33 of 39 homicides, according to CPD data.

About half of the shootings happened in 10 neighborhoods: Over-the-Rhine, Walnut Hills, West End, Avondale, Westwood, Winton Hills, East Price Hill, Bond Hill, Roselawn and College Hill.

Most of the people shot are Black men, followed by Black women. Together they make up 167 of the 183 victims.

Hours later, Bond Hill teacher Andrea Spenny spoke about gun violence during City Council's Equity, Inclusion, Youth, & The Arts Committee meeting. She said a student messaged her after a shooting in Avondale Monday night left a 16-year-old in the hospital.

"He asked if I had heard about it — said it's too much, reflected on the young life we lost last week in Walnut Hills. He said they're way too young. He said he hopes he's not next. I'm here today because today I walked into a school full of students crying. Our kids deserve better than this," she said.

Spenny encouraged council members to keep teens experiencing gun violence in mind when deciding how to allocate the city's budget this week, keeping in mind that they have always lived with this kind of violence.

There have been 19 juvenile shooting victims this year in the city, according to CPD data.

Isaac said while his officers are focused on getting guns off the streets, it's important for the city to partner with other agencies, social workers and advocates to prevent gun crime. 

"This is the time where I say we need their help. Make sure young people know how to resolve conflict before they're out in society and it doesn't result in someone picking up a gun. Or two individuals having an argument, and they end up shooting three little kids as they try to shoot each other," he said. "Those are the type of things that are happening in our communities right now. So we certainly need that help and that support." 

Other data released during the meeting shows a 3.8% increase in aggravated assault and a 5.3% decrease in rape from last year.

Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.