CINCINNATI - The fatal shootings of two men in separate areas of Cincinnati within hours Wednesday night continue a deadly trend as the city heads into summer: A spike in homicide.
While violent crime has dropped through the end of March in Cincinnati, killings have increased by 50 percent when compared to the same period last year, according Cincinnati police statistics .
Through April, 21 people were slain in Cincinnati compared to 14 during the same time period last year.
Wednesday evening, police found Nathan Poellnitz fatally shot in the 3200 block of Bowling Green Court in North Fairmount.
Just two hours later and across the city in Evanston, police found 17-year-old Jordan Dawson shot in the 1600 block of Hewitt Avenue. The teen died from his injuries at University Hospital.
Police had not made arrests in either killing.
A challenge in many homicide cases for investigators is finding witnesses to cooperate. While some residents fear reprisal, others say they don't trust police.
"Case in point last night, there were numerous people on the street that may have witnessed something," said Cincinnati police District 2 Commander Captain Paul Broxterman. "To my knowledge, no one came forward.
"We're working the angle now to see if it was drug related or not or if it was a retaliation."
Community leaders and residents see the same thing.
"They just kind of don't talk because of their past experience; or family members or because of their own personal involvement," said Evanston Community Council President Anzora Adkins. "But we still keep hope alive and we encourage our youth to stay focused and to make good choices."
Evanston has chalked up five shootings this year, two of which were fatal. In January, Terrance Womack, 16, was shot and killed after leaving the Evanston Recreation Center.
"It's a shame that kids keep killing kids," said Evanston resident Ronnell Boston on Thursday. "Go to school, get up off the streets because there ain't nothing happening on the streets.
"Ain't but two things going to happen – [end up in] jail or in the ground."
In Police District 2, where Evanston is located, there have been three homicides compared to one last year. More specifically, two people were slain in 2011 and 2012 combined in Evanston.
The answer to reversing the trend is not adding more officers, but becoming more strategic, Broxterman said.
"The ‘cops on dots' is not the only strategy to pursue, because we're never going to have the number of police officers we have in the past," Broxterman said.
Instead, Broxterman said officers are deployed based on statistical and analytical data, which identifies high-crime areas throughout the district. The goal is be more efficient with the police force. There are a total of 103 sworn police officers in District 2, representing a little more than 10 percent of the city's total sworn officer force of 972.
"The come in according to the need," Adkins said. "So, it's quite natural as far as a great influx that's not needed until the need arises."
"People that are in the street are afraid of retaliation and they don't speak up," Adkins said. That's my sense."
Flooding a community with new beat officers who stop more residents may not be the best approach, either. Instead, Adkins said, a District 2 police officer attends the community council's meeting each month.
"They keep us informed with statistics and the latest on particular investigations," Adkins said. "We then communicate that with community."
Broxterman said while the relationship with the community council is strong; he conceded Evanston might be suffering from more organized groups of teens dealing drugs.
"When I first came on 25 years ago, we had gangs in that area back then and they may not be as organized as they are now," he said. "We consistently work to get a grasp on that."
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