Funding is now in place for the Cincinnati Police Department to try to make this summer less violent than in years past.
During the April 20 Cincinnati City Council meeting, council members unanimously approved $250,000 to be earmarked for police overtime pay when the CPD launches its plan to address summer gun violence. The money is in addition to the funding already approved through the fiscal year budget and comes from a realignment of federal American Rescue Plan funding from 2021, officials said during the meeting. See the ordinance on the city of Cincinnati's website.
Interim Police Chief Teresa A. Theetge initially announced a request for funding the police's summer action plan on April 5 alongside Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval, Interim City Manager John P. Curp, and Cincinnati City Council member Scotty Johnson.
Each of Cincinnati's six police districts will have access to the money and will use data to determine hardest-hit neighborhoods and strategically deploy extra uniformed and non-uniformed officers both on foot and in patrol cars, Theetge had explained.
"What we know from history is there are more instances of violence during the summer months," said Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney, Cincinnati's vice mayor, during the April 20 meeting. "Last year, the request (for similar funding) was $1 million. She (Theetge) assures us that $250,000 is what's needed at this point. Our police have worked really hard to implement a data-driven, community-based plan to combat violent crime."
Earlier this month, Theetge said that the extra summer officer hours would be just one aspect of the department's policing plan, with community engagement and youth programs also being deployed.
The community engagement aspect will revolve around the CPD’s collaborations with groups like the God Squad, Theetge had said. The faith-based initiative, first launched in 2014, features clergy members who partner with police officers to de-escalate situations without the use of weapons or force.
Youth programs will also play a major role throughout the summer. The police department's Summer Cadet Program, which allows teenagers ages 16-19 the chance to work part-time for the CPD and learn about police work, and the Children in Trauma Intervention (C.I.T.I.) Camp, a summer program by the CPD “designed to encourage, inspire, motivate and challenge youth,” are expected to be featured.
But residents who aren't part of those initiatives can help, too, Cincinnati City Council members urged.
"It's more than the police," Johnson added. "We need the community at the table. We need the community participating. We need the community to be a partner in assisting us this summer so that we get through the summer with numbers trending down versus up as they are now."
In addition, a grant will pay to hire a coordinator for the CPD’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center, which tracks, investigates, prosecutes and prevents gun crime in the area.
2022 statistics show that Cincinnati is well on its way to experiencing its highest rate of gun violence in the past five years. CPD reports that 78 shootings took place in the first three months of 2022 alone.
The state as a whole has also been dealing with skyrocketing gun violence rates. In 2021, Ohio almost hit its all-time record for gun deaths, with at least 1,762 Ohioans dying from firearms last year — just two shy of the record-setting year of 2020, according to preliminary data from the Ohio Department of Health. This points to a 62% increase from In 2007, when the earliest data was available, 1,085 Ohioans died at the barrel of a gun. Since that year, gun violence deaths have increased by 62%. Nationally, gun violence deaths only rose by 27% during that same time period.
Gun violence (and violence of any kind) is much more prevalent in large cities across the United States during the summer months (between approximately June and August) when people are more likely to be outside and socializing with others. A 2018 report by the New York Times found that people in Chicago were twice as likely to get shot in warmer weather than in colder weather.
Last summer, Cincinnatians closely followed the ongoing gun violence and subsequent police response, particularly after the Smale Park Shooting involving two young men. Two people died and several were injured in that incident. CPD later added extra bike and patrol officers to city streets for the summer.
Officials hope such incidents won't occur in 2022.
"By utilizing both data and community input, each district commander has determined certain areas of town where more police presence is needed to combat violence throughout the summer months. The overtime funding will allow our officers to provide the citizens of Cincinnati and our summer visitors alike, with the safest City possible," Theetge said in an April 20 statement provided by the mayor's office.
Watch the April 20 Cincinnati City Council meeting online.