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Cincinnati Will See More Officers Out To Enforce Stay-At-Home Order

Michael E. Keating

You'll likely see more Cincinnati police officers on the streets as the city works to enforce the statewide stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The order from the governor and Ohio's health director begins Monday at 11:59 p.m. and for now will last for two weeks.

Health officials want people to stay home unless they need to go out for groceries, pickup carryout food, or travel to work at businesses that are deemed essential.

Police Chief Eliot Isaac told reporters Monday there will be a greater presence of officers, and they'll be out to encourage compliance with the order.

"We will not be out trying to stop individuals going about the course of their business, the things that they need to do on a daily basis," Isaac said. "However, we will be addressing large groups, businesses that are not complying with the governor's orders and things of that nature."

People or businesses will likely get a verbal warning, and if that doesn't work, they could be given a citation.  Violation of the order is a 2nd degree misdemeanor.

While there may be more officers on the street, Mayor John Cranley said response times could slowdown.

"To protect our first responders, our police and firefighters, we have to space them out more and more often to protect them to make sure that they, if one gets sick, they don't all get sick," Cranley said. "So, response times may slow down over the next several weeks, but we want to make sure that there's a response today, tomorrow and throughout this crisis."

The police department is expected to make changes to its "calls for service" policy, and some items that in the past may have brought an officer to your door may now be handled with a phone call.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday he's ordering an immediate hiring freeze in state government, except for those directly involved in the coronavirus fight. And he's asked all members of his cabinet to immediately look for spending and budget cuts they can make of up to 20%, though he said not all agencies will be able to make those cuts.

DeWine made those decisions because he's expecting state revenues to go down dramatically.

And Cranley said the city is taking similar steps in advance of what could be budget shortfalls in the current fiscal year, and the new one which starts July 1.

"We have implemented a hiring freeze as of last week of part-time and full-time employees," Cranley said. "We are in the process of considering furloughs of part-time staff. We are reviewing non-executed contracts and determining if we can delay, freeze or cancel them as appropriate."

Cranley also said the city is aggressively looking to streamline operations looking for additional savings.

The city's largest source of funding for the general fund budget that pays for basic service is the income tax, and that could take a hit with many people facing layoffs as businesses are shutdown because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Ohio Public Radio Statehouse Reporter Karen Kasler contributed to this story.