FC Cincinnati could buy CMHA land in West End; CPD: overall crime dropped in 2017, but violent crimes rose; more news

Cincinnati police officials Monday discussed year-end crime statistics for 2017 in Cincinnati City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee. Their report was a mixed bag, including fewer shootings last year but more homicides.

Cincinnati Police Department headquarters - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati Police Department headquarters

Good morning all. Here’s a quick news rundown as we all struggle through the middle of the week together. What’s that? You’re not struggling through your Wednesday morning? Cool, great, nice I guess. Glad for you.

• Another sign that FC Cincinnati is eying the West End for its potential stadium: the team has signed a purchase option for 64 parcels in that neighborhood currently owned by the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority. Those plots include land that was slated to be used in this year’s Citirama home fair. The area contains some single-family homes that aren’t part of the deal, but which border the CMHA-owned plots up for sale. The purchase option stipulates that FCC can buy the land from CMHA within a year at fair market value following an appraisal.

• Cincinnati police officials Monday discussed year-end crime statistics for 2017 in Cincinnati City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee. Here are some major takeaways: overall crime was down last year by about 2.7 percent, following a trend of decreasing crime that has been happening since 2011. But violent crimes, including rapes, assaults and homicides, were up about 1.5 percent over the three-year average. Despite the uptick in violent crimes, shootings and robberies were down slightly from the recent past. The 410 shootings that happened in Cincinnati in 2017 represent 16 fewer than the previous year. Police officials point to violent crime increases in a number of cities around the Midwest and say that Cincinnati has fared relatively well compared to peer cities.

• Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has asked a judge to delay questioning by a police oversight panel of two Cincinnati Police officers involved in a gun battle with a man in Walnut Hills. Deters is seeking a temporary restraining order keeping officers Kenneth Grubbs and William Keuper from testifying before the Citizens Complaint Authority in the shooting of Damion McRae. The officers were responding to a domestic violence call when they say McRae emerged with a rifle and opened fire. McRae shot Grubbs and was also wounded as both Grubbs and Keuper fired at him. McRae currently faces charges of attempted murder and felonious assault. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Tom Heekin will rule on Deters’ request within 30 days.

• A Hamilton County Courts judge ruled yesterday that Cincinnati Park Board Chair Dianne Rosenberg’s term ends Feb. 1, 2018, not in 2021. But she can stay in her role until Cincinnati City Council approves her successor, Judge Charles Kubicki says. That means the tug-of-war between Mayor John Cranley — who wants Rosenberg out — and Rosenberg’s supporters will continue. Council approved Cranley’s appointment to replace Rosenberg, Jim Goetz, back in December. But since that time, three new members have joined the city’s deliberative body, making the situation somewhat more uncertain.

• In the latest attempts to make progress on the remaining portions of The Banks, the panel that advises Cincinnati and Hamilton County on the project yesterday approved a call for developers to pitch their ideas for a concert venue at Cincinnati’s riverfront development. The Joint Banks Steering Committee also approved a request for qualifications for the final 11 acres of the project, but some members did so while voicing the opinion that the city and county should change tack and move away from the master developer arrangement it used for the first third of the massive project. Instead, plots at The Banks should be open to pitches from developers directly, 3CDC CEO and committee member Stephen Leeper suggested. The project has been without a master developer for over a year after Atlanta development company Carter left the project.

• Finally, a tragic school shooting killed two and injured 18 yesterday in Benton, Ky. The accused shooter hasn’t been named, but is believed to be a 15-year-old student at Marshall County High School, where the shooting took place. Benton is about four and a half hours southwest of Cincinnati.

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