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Cincinnati is re-launching the Safe & Clean Fund and offering problem-solving training

The Cincinnati skyline as seen from Lower Price Hill.
Becca Costello
The Cincinnati skyline as seen from Lower Price Hill.

A type of problem-solving training used by Cincinnati Police is now available to the public, starting this week. SARA training (Scanning, Analyzing, Responding, Assessing) is a key part of the community policing goals in Cincinnati's historic Collaborative Agreement, but the method can be applied to any community problem.

Cincinnati's Director of Human Relations Virginia Tallent says the SARA method is about how to gather information and what to do with it once you get it.

"So you have information to define the problem, to discover the underlying cause; now, you're essentially implementing a hypothesis — it's sort of like scientific method," Tallent said. "You're selecting and implementing solutions to solve the problem, tailored to address you know what it is that you're experiencing."

The free training is part of legislation passed at Council last year, introduced by Greg Landsman.

"[SARA] helps community [and] police work together to look at data, look at the information about neighborhoods in particular areas, and start to problem solve those areas," Landsman said. "Which means ultimately, they're going to get better results and the dollars are going to be spent on things that have the most impact."

There are four opportunities this month to participate in the virtual training:

  • Wednesday, April 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Monday, April 11 from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 19 from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 23 from 9 to 11 a.m.

Dr. Ebony Ruhland from the University of Cincinnati will facilitate. You can register online here.

Safe and Clean Fund

Landsman's legislation also included efforts to reduce blight and crime in the city, including a re-launch of the Safe and Clean Fund.

Tallent says understanding the SARA method will help nonprofits applying for grants from "Safe and Clean 2.0."

Previous Safe and Clean grants have included litter and other beautification efforts. This time around, the priority will be projects in neighborhoods with the highest incidence of shooting crimes.

"It's certainly not a requirement, like you don't have to be applying from one of those neighborhoods or to serve one of those neighborhoods," Tallent said. "But we are trying to emphasize that this is really meant as a response to community gun violence."

For calendar year 2021, those neighborhoods are: West End, Over-the-Rhine, Walnut Hills, Avondale, East Price Hill, Westwood, Winton Hills, Evanston, West Price Hill, and Bond Hill.

Unlike previous Safe and Clean grants, these will have no matching requirement and there's no longer a $10,000 limit on each grant. Tallent says they hope to fund more ambitious projects this year, while still including smaller efforts.

Another new feature is that funds will be available on a rolling basis, where previous grants were available just twice a year.

The fund has $500,000 from the city. Landsman's plan was to get another $500,000 from corporate donations, but so far that hasn't happened yet.

"My sense is that there will be private sector support; it will help when we start to see the projects get funded," Landsman said. "So when you start to see real work happening in East Westwood or Avondale or price Hill, I think some of the private sector folks we've talked to will look at that and say, those are investments we want to be part of."

Applications will open in about a month. Nonprofits with an annual budget of $500,000 or less will be eligible to apply.

PIVOT data

Another aspect of Landsman's legislation was a request to make the Cincinnati Police Department's PIVOT "micro-locations" data available to the public.

A June 2017 report found crime hotspots that make up just 1.4% of the city's landmass, but account for 42.6% of shootings involving a victim. Landsman wants newer data that would be shared publicly.

In a statement, a city spokesperson said the PIVOT data is not configured as a useful public facing dashboard: "CPD is working with their IT staff to examine options for how to best address the Council motion."

Landsman says he's hopeful that piece will be accomplished eventually.

"The more information, the more data, that the community has, the better," he said.

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.