In Special Session, Council Debates How To Best Curb Crime

Jul 18, 2019

Cincinnati City Council unanimously approved a resolution to address the increase in summer violence at a Thursday meeting.

Council members Greg Landsman and P.G. Sittenfield proposed the resolution that will hire two community outreach workers; allocate funds for the outreach workers' basic needs; extend hours for recreation centers in hot-spot neighborhoods including Price Hill, Avondale and Over-the-Rhine; and prioritize working with community partners.

"We should have been doing this after the first shooting not after the 14th," Community member Iris Roley says. "I feel that because we didn't do it after the first shooting it sends a message to a portion of this community that you don't value (them). We have to wait until another portion of the community is harmed before we move."

She says answering questions before public officials know the problem is "knee-jerk." Roley says if public officials include people impacted it could help identify and solve problems, which, she points out, is a part of the Collaborative Agreement.

Sittenfield recognized that the resolution doesn't solve long-term problems and is an effort to prevent more violence.

Police Chief Elliot Issac says the Cincinnati Police Department wants the police force to  be staffed at 1,055 people so the department can have more police in hot-spot neighborhoods.

Council Member Tamaya Dennard says focusing on resolving the issue with police is reactive and isn't stopping the issue before it occurs.

"Before we throw money on a problem, we need to examine what's happening," Dennard says. "Maybe we need to put more of those 957 or 997 officers on the street." Dennard says she values police officers' work and believes a different approach could change the outcome.

Dennard has been hosting youth-centered conversations on gun violence and says although it isn't a quick solution, it can have long-term success.

Mayor Cranley says Chief Isaac is the subject-matter expert and agrees the police force should grow. Dennard responded stating young people are also experts on the topic and that every community doesn't have the same relationship with the police.

"Every single department in our city except police and fire have been decimated because of incredible budget deficits every single year," Council Member Chris Seelbach says. He says that doesn't mean they shouldn't increase the number of police. He says the city can’t have the lowest income tax of major cities in Ohio to attract business and talk about spending money on ways to prevent violence.

"When we pick winners and losers in certain communities that contributes to violence," Dennard says. "The young people are telling us they see disparities in distribution of resources." She says they can’t "arrest away" the problem.