The Cincinnati Police Department is tracking an alarming increase in the number of homicides and shootings in the city for 2020.
Through early Tuesday morning there had been 57 homicides in the city Assistant Police Chief Paul Neudigate told City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee. That's a 36.6% increase from the same period in 2019.
"If 2020 continues on the pace that it is, this will probably be the worst year for homicidal violence that we've had on record," Neudigate said.
The increases follow 2018 and 2019, both of which saw the lowest numbers for gun violence in the city.
Demographics for the 57 homicide victims are 42 black males; eight black females; three white males; and three white females. One victim was an unborn baby, and the gender and race were not identified.
Meanwhile, there have been 289 people injured in shooting incidents. That's a 48% percent increase from the same period in 2019. And the 2020 number is already higher than the 279 recorded in the 2015 time period, which is the most recent high.
The demographics for the 289 shooting victims are 227 black males; 33 black females; 20 white males; four black females; and five identified as other.
Most of the shooting violence is concentrated in Over-the-Rhine, West End, Westwood and Avondale.
When Did Things Change?
Neudigate says the number started increasing when the department changed its response plan because of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
"So, when we are not interacting with our community, when we're not able to have the face-to-face contact, we're not able to get in those group settings and have those dialogues," Neudigate said. "It makes it very challenging for us to know what's going on out on the streets."
The department does know a lot about who's behind many of the shootings.
"There are 50 to 60 identified trigger pullers in the city that are responsible for the overwhelming amount of shooting violence," Neudigate said. "And we have focused on them intently, relentlessly."
The number of shooting incidents dropped when the department launched a four-week long Gun Task Force to focus on the issue in May. But the numbers started increasing following the incident in Minneapolis where George Floyd died in police custody. That led to protests and demonstrations against police across the country, including in the Cincinnati region.
Neudigate said the department has further adjusted its tactics and responses following the protests and demonstrations.
"So, it is a very delicate situation right now that we want to be proactive," Neudigate said. "But we don't want to appear as being that overly aggressive agency that unfortunately had us in a very bad place just a few weeks ago."
Law and Public Safety Committee Chairman Christopher Smitherman called the homicide numbers "heart wrenching." He also said the numbers also reject the idea of "defunding the police."
"So, anybody that thinks that we don't need the police when they look at these fact findings that are before us are not dealing in reality," Smitherman said. "We need our police. We have to support our police. We can do proactive policing and support the collaborative agreement; we can walk and chew gum at the same time."