County Funding Boost Aided Anti-Violence Initiative
The number of fatal and non-fatal shootings in Cincinnati and Hamilton County for the first six months of this year is higher than the same period last year. That's according to numbers provided by CIRV, the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence.
The violence comes after Hamilton County Commissioners last year voted to fund the participation of probation officers in CIRV. That funding allows probation officers to dedicate more time to the program.
UC's Robin Engel says the number of people shot between January 1, 2015 and June 17, 2015 is 27 percent higher than the same period last year, and 14 percent higher than the five year average.
“Having said that, I don’t think it’s a reflection of the work of probation,” Engel says. “In fact, I’m concerned that these numbers would be much higher if we didn’t have them as partners. And of course you can’t prove a counterfactual; I can’t tell you how many lives have been saved by their involvement. But I intuitively believe that these numbers would be higher than they are had we not had their involvement.”
Engel says probation officers have been instrumental in increasing attendance at call ins. Those are CIRV meetings where police and probation officers meet with parolees and those on probation to encourage them to stay out of trouble.
“Call ins are offender notification meetings,” Engel says. “This is the way that we communicate with the street. And we’d had a real trouble bringing those folks in to our call in sessions to hear our message.”
At the call in sessions, felons on probation are offered pathways to education and employment and are reminded any criminal activity or association with those involved in criminal activity will land them back in prison. Engel says participation at the call ins is up dramatically since probation officers have devoted more attention to CIRV.
Engel and Brian Urban, associate chief of Hamilton County Probation, say this spring mini call in sessions started, focusing on individual neighborhoods. Earlier this month, 20 people on probation in Avondale were called in. On Thursday of this week, another mini call in is planned for Westwood Plans are underway for another in Madisonville.
Engel and officials from the probation office updated County Commissioners during the board's regular Monday morning staff meeting.