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Coronavirus
As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Police, FOP Say Violent Criminals Taking Advantage Of Pandemic

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Bill Rinehart
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WVXU

Cincinnati Police commanders and the head of Cincinnati's Fraternal Order of Police want Hamilton County judges to start sending more people to jail. FOP President Dan Hils says 149 people have been shot in the city this year; 101 of those happened since stay-at-home orders went into effect.

"The Justice Center's population is hundreds below capacity. In other words, there is room in the inn," Hils says. "The Cincinnati Police Department has made over 200 arrests with gun recoveries already in the year 2020. The police are locking up bad guys and the sheriff is ready to hold them at the jail." 

Local judges in March allowed the release of non-violent, low-level offenders who couldn't make bail in order to increase space in the Justice Center, and decrease the chance of a COVID-outbreak.

Hils says violent crime is way up since the practice started. "Cincinnati Police are at work. The chief will tell you that. We need the other side of the justice system to work as well."

Hils says he's talked to Sheriff Jim Neil and was assured the jail has room and is free of COVID-19. Police say there have been 101 shootings in the city since the statewide lockdown started. Chief Eliot Isaac says the 33rd homicide of the year happened last night. 

Isaac says violent crime has spiked in the city, and it's time to keep some suspects in custody. "I want to be very clear. I'm not talking about low-level offenses. I'm not talking about non-violent offenders, but those individuals who utilize illegal guns and commit violence in our neighborhoods," he says.

Hils says violent criminals are taking advantage of what he calls a "revolving door policy" at the jail. He says since May 4, more than a dozen people arrested on firearms charges were released on low bonds.

Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.