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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.

Cincinnati Police Chief Outlines Steps To Halting Recent Surge In Gun Violence

Cincinnati has seen a rise in violence since the coronavirus pandemic started in March, and the subsequent statewide stay-at-home order that caused some residents to stay inside and not be on the streets in their communities.

Police Chief Eliot Isaac told City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee Wednesday morning there's a tremendous amount of violence taking place in the streets.

Isaac said there have been 35 homicides in the city so far this year.

"But 19 of the last 20 have been cleared; we currently sit at a 75% clearance rate for the year," Isaac said. "So, there's some tremendous work being done, there's a lot of information being provided. We continue to ask the community for their support, their communication with us. We simply cannot do it without them."

There has also been an increase in non-fatal shootings in the city.

Isaac formed a violent crime gun task force to address the issues. That group just completed the third week of its assignment.

"They've already seized over 50 firearms in that three-week period," Isaac said. "So, a tremendous amount of work being done out there. Really focusing on those individuals that are pulling the triggers and doing harm in our communities."

During a council appearance last month, Isaac said the department was concerned about a lack of "natural surveillance" because of COVID-19.

"The partnerships that we've had with community, I believe, has helped us reduce crime over the last several years," Isaac said. "This is where we would be asking and encouraging community members to be out, to be visible in their communities, to take ownership of their communities, to partner with us in events and activities."

Meanwhile, Isaac announced that for now the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office has declined prosecution "for part of the case" involving a shooting this month that resulted in the death of an 8-year-old boy on Hawaiian Terrace in Mt. Airy.

Isaac said Chance Gilbert died in an apartment and he called it an accident involving children "in the home" playing with a firearm. He called it a "true tragedy for that family." Isaac said it was not a street crime.

He said there could still be charges filed as the investigation continues, but he declined to elaborate for the council committee.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Gilbert was shot by another child with a gun that he told investigators he didn't know was loaded.

Deters said the gun was left by an adult, and there are other adults who know who the gun belonged to. He said that gun has now disappeared.

"And I'm not telling you this thing is over by a long shot," Deters said. "There were people who knew what happened and are covering for each other. The only one who has shown any courage and telling the truth is the boy who pulled the trigger."

Deters said that boy is going to need help after what happened.

Deters also said there's a "real possibility" Gilbert was shot outside and then dragged into an apartment where he was found by police.

The police department's Community Relations Unit, Victims Assistance Liaison Unit, The God Squad and Mother's Against Gun Violence planned to be on Hawaiian Terrace Tuesday afternoon to provide gun safety information and hand out free gun locks.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.