Neighborhoods continue to search for solutions for recent youth gun violence

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Posted at 6:08 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 02:20:07-04

CINCINNATI — Just as community members in East Westwood wrapped up a meeting to search for solutions to the recent spike in youth violence and gun crime, a teen was shot and critically wounded in Over-the-Rhine Monday night.

One solution community members considered at the East Westwood meeting and in other meetings like it happening around the city is the creation of a recreation center that would give kids a place to go.

"Every neighborhood needs somewhere for kids to go play. I don't think it's the solution to everything," said Betsy Sundermann, a member of Cincinnati city council.

At this point, Sundermann said, the city's budget is finished and finalized. Changing it now to include funding for additional rec centers would mean defunding something else.

Currently, there are nearly two dozen recreation centers city-wide. Hours vary at each center, and while East Westwood may be currently lacking one, OTR is not, providing a clear indication that what might be an answer to youth gun violence in one neighborhood isn't guaranteed to work in all of them.

"The fixes are going to be very different. The crime is different, the people are different, just the layout of the neighborhoods are different," said Sundermann.

In OTR, police said the community is working to engage more with kids.

"There's some public activities that tend to take place in Grant Park, Findlay Park and OTR Rec Center aimed exactly towards that," said Cpt. Matthew Hammer, police commander at District One.

Kevin Corey, executive director of Wesley Chapel Mission Center, said his center offers the types of programs many people are searching for, like mentorship, academic help and life skills training.

"It takes a village to raise a child. Well, right now that village is on fire," said Corey. "You hear a lot of talks about what we need, more police, more community. We need families to develop a relationship with their kids."

Neither the Cincinnati Recreation Commission nor the Cincinnati city manager were available to comment for this story.

Sundermann said she plans to host a public safety forum in OTR on Thursday at the Ensemble Theatre.