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'Suddenly, Your Community Confidant Is Gone': Second Public Safety Forum Held In Over-The-Rhine, With More To Come

Sundermann's Over-the-Rhine public safety forum was held in the Ensemble Theater.
Becca Costello
Sundermann's Over-the-Rhine public safety forum was held at the Ensemble Theater.

About 10 people joined Council Member Betsy Sundermann's public safety forum in Over-the-Rhine Thursday night.

Cincinnati Council Member Betsy Sundermann says many of the crowd-sourced solutions she's heard to reduce violent crime will take a long time to implement, but she's looking for immediate options as well.

Tabatha Anderson is a member of the Pendleton Neighborhood Council. She says it's frustrating to call the police and never see an officer respond. She also says the Cincinnati Police Department's neighborhood liaison officers are critical, but can't make much progress when they get transferred to other jobs.

"You get them for a couple of years and then all of a sudden they disappear without any type of warning – that's harsh," Anderson said. "Even as business owners, that's tough on us. Because we're used to seeing these faces and being able to communicate and say 'OK, this is where we see a hot spot.' Now all of a sudden that person who is your community confidant is gone."

CPD Captain Matthew Hammer is commander for District 1. He says that problem is tough to solve.

"Just like any large organization, there can be significant turnover," Hammer said. "But we do recognize that that also creates challenges in how we build our relationships with the community."

Sundermann hosted the first in a series of public safety forums in East Westwood a few weeks ago. She says she hopes the meetings are making important connections between community members.

"In this one, half the people said there were no activities for kids, but the other half of the people here tonight said they actually run activities for children," Sundermann said. "So that really gives me hope that we can hook these people up, and we can get the kids into these programs, and they won't be bored and turn to drugs or crime."

Asked about the need for more resources for organizations that run youth programming, Sundermann says the city isn't necessarily the right source for more funding.

"I would like to give all of these organizations money," she said. "But what are we taking away from the city? Would it mean that we can't fix streets? Would it mean that we're defunding the police? I would not be on board with that."

Sundermann will host at least two more public safety forums over the next couple months, including in Price Hill in early August.

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.