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Westwood Residents: Police, City Officials Don't Take Our Safety Concerns Seriously

Cincinnati Police responded to a drive-by shooting in East Price Hill Thursday night, not far from where Council Member Betsy Sundermann lives. About five miles away in Westwood, Sundermann listened to a few dozen people concerned about violent crime and unsafe roads in a public forum.

Sundermann hosted the forum after hearing from constituents their safety concerns aren't being taken seriously.

That message was loud and clear from Westwood residents like Joe Driehaus. He says a police dispatcher laughed at him when he called to report a case of public urination.

"I cannot believe the lack of concern, the lack of effort, the lack of enforcement of the law," he said.

People spoke about violent crime and street safety, asking officials to address problems with more urgency. Many residents were emotional as they expressed frustration with city officials and the police department.

Rodney Christian, president of the East Westwood Community Council, says events like this are important — but only if city officials follow-through on what they've heard.

"We need not let them feel like they're alone," Christian said. "Because once they feel more alone, they're going to give up. They'll throw their hands up and not have nothing else to say to the police."

Sundermann says events like this usually are a media stunt with no follow-through, but this will be different.

"I promise to actually do something, [and] I know CPD is taking it seriously," she said. "I will keep in touch with all the community advocates who came and I will follow up with them; I will follow up with the citizens who gave me their personal information."

A few longtime Westwood residents say they've watched the neighborhood "go downhill" as crime increased and resources didn't grow to match.

"They need jobs," said resident Gwen Summers of area youth. "I think that would help out a whole lot. Without a job, what else do you have to turn to? You can't do a paper route nowadays and make the kind of money they're used to making on the streets and on the corners."

A woman named Paige said reducing crime is critical because of the affect on kids.

"When you can ride past a neighborhood and see somebody laying on the ground, lifeless, with no air in their lungs, it's traumatizing to everyone," she said. "I just want people to step up."

Council Members David Mann and Steve Goodin attended the forums. Goodin said it's clear city council hasn't done enough to listen to resident concerns; he also touted a record amount of money in the new city budget for pedestrian safety and street calming.

Sundermann plans to hold public safety forums in other neighborhoods over the next few months.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.