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Cincinnati spending $1.5M to expand a violence hot spot reduction program

Mayor aftab pureval
Becca Costello
/
WVXU
Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval.

Cincinnati is expanding an award-winning program to reduce violent crime in certain hot spots throughout the city.

When the police department launched PIVOT six years ago, it was the first in the country to use the model, which stands for Place-based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories. CPD won an international award in 2017 for using PIVOT in East Westwood, where the number of shooting victims fell 80%.

“We have already seen promising results for how the PIVOT program can help address the hot spots in our city where violent crime is most frequent, while also encouraging community engagement and neighborhood rebuilding efforts,” said Mayor Aftab Pureval. “But we're not getting complacent; we're taking action. We're revising and reviewing the data in real time, and we're being flexible and innovative in our response.”

The PIVOT program uses data from violent crimes, especially shootings, to identify hot spots that may only be a couple blocks wide. Cincinnati Police are using PIVOT in four hot spot areas right now: one in Over-the-Rhine and three in Price Hill.

The program includes more police patrols, but also efforts to stabilize the area with things like better lighting, and code enforcement for blighted properties. In one example, it was realizing weapons were hidden in some tall grass and making sure the area was mowed regularly.

Pureval says the city is re-directing $1.5 million in annual federal funding to expand PIVOT. The expansion will devote more city resources to the four existing hot spots, and could allow CPD to add more hot spots in the future, depending on crime data trends.

At least eight other jurisdictions across the country currently use or plan to use the “place network investigations” model of policing developed by Tamara Herold, according to the Washington Post.

Pureval says PIVOT is one of several efforts aimed at reducing violence, especially during summer months when crime historically goes up. He pointed to $600,000 in the recently-approved city budget for the Community Partnering Center at the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio.

"At the Urban League, we understand that violence consists of many factors — it's not just the incident that we respond to in that immediate moment," said president and CEO Christie Kuhns. "There's income equality issues that we need to work on; there's generational poverty; there's quality education; there's lack of affordable housing."

Cincinnati set a record with 94 homicides in 2020, then tied the record with another 94 homicides in 2021. Overall, though, crime in Cincinnati is at a 10-year low. Interim Police Chief Teresa Theetge says programs like the Crime Gun Intelligence Center are working.

“We have almost a 20% reduction in homicides year to date,” Theetge said. “Today we see an 18% reduction [in shootings] from 2020 to 2022. And from last year to this year, almost a 5% reduction.”

Theetge says CPD is applying for a federal violence reduction grant for work that is similar to PIVOT.

“However, this is going to be more where we focus on networks of individuals that are driving crime in particular areas of our city,” she said.

Separately, city administration will create a holistic strategy to respond to gun violence through a public health lens. The city will put out an RFP (request for proposals) to find a third-party organization to help create the strategy. Council declared gun violence a public health crisis earlier this year.

Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.