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Violence tends to spike in the summertime. This year, Cincinnati wants to get ahead of the problem

People stand with their backs toward the camera, at the entrance to Ziegler Park.
Bill Rinehart
Cincinnati Police clear Ziegler Park on Saturday, May 11, 2024, after a fistfight drew dozens of young spectators.

Violence involving young people tends to spike after schools let out for the summer. Cincinnati leaders say they're trying to stop it before it starts.

City Manager Sheryl Long says departments and volunteers are working together. "This administration has spent months working in preparation to ensure we are equipped to offer free, safe spaces for our kids this summer," she says.

All city pools will be open by June 3 and the Recreation Commission has expanded programming, including night-time activities. Cincinnati Parks will have several events, and police will be targeting crime hotspots.

"What we all want is, we want your kid to succeed," Long says.

She says the city is also forming a youth advisory group so they have a voice in problem-solving as well.

RELATED: All 24 Cincinnati city pools will open this summer

Activist Iris Roley says Cincinnati already witnessed large numbers of young people hanging out around Government Square and getting into trouble earlier this year.

"But what is new and different is that people are actually showing up — those who care. And those who have something to offer," Roley says. "There is no problem-solving without community."

Cincinnati Recreation Director Daniel Betts says day camps have returned for all ages, with some improvements. "We know many of our young people come to us having to deal with trauma at home and/or in their neighborhoods. So our staff will be more than prepared to address those issues," he says.

Betts says CRC partnered with Children's Hospital for enhanced training.

RELATED: Cincinnati launches program to help trauma victims

Police Chief Theresa Theetge says officers will focus on hot spots and participate in community events. She adds one of the department's primary goals is to get stolen guns out of circulation.

"We need to increase the messaging around keeping your guns safely stored," Theetge says. "When guns get stolen, people don't steal them for their own protection. They steal them to be used in a crime. So if we can have less guns stolen, that's less opportunities for a gun to be utilized in a crime."

Theetge says the department's efforts appear to be working: thefts from cars and the number of juvenile gunshot victims are both down.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.