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Cincinnati councilman proposes using COVID stimulus to fund new police recruit class

Cincinnati Police
Posted at 6:11 PM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 19:52:44-04

CINCINNATI — Some nights, Rev. Peterson Mingo of Christ Temple Full Gospel Baptist Church in Evanston is awoken by a sound that haunts him. It's a sound he's heard while accompanying Cincinnati police officers to the scene of a homicide.

"There have been times when I wake up in the middle of the night, and I can still hear that scream," he said, referring to the scream a mother makes when she discovers her child has been killed.

"I know there are other mothers. There are," Mingo said.

Mingo's own brother was the victim of homicide decades ago. In the years since, the pastor has worked to console survivors of people killed in acts of violence.

Such acts in Cincinnati reached near-record levels during the coronavirus pandemic. Cincinnati police investigated more than 90 homicides in 2020, making it one of the city's deadliest years on record.

Cincinnati City Councilman Steve Goodin thinks the latest COVID-19 relief bill could offer a solution to the rising level of violence.

At a Friday news conference outside Over-the-Rhine's Grant Park, which has seen at least 10 homicides since 2019, Goodin introduced a motion that would immediately allocate a portion of the $290 million in pandemic relief money set aside for Cincinnati by the American Rescue Plan Act to fund a new police recruit class, in the interest of eventually putting more officers on the streets.

"There are still some very, very bad, tough and violent things happening on our streets, and we do need this increased police presence both in a preventative standpoint and an investigative standpoint," Goodin said.

Goodin's plan would also put more money toward training for the department's mental health response team, putting more resources toward Mingo's work. In addition to accompanying officers on homicide runs, he also runs the Rites of Passage Youth and Sports Program.

"I think we need to do a much better job in terms of getting these officers trained in how to interact with these existing programs," Goodin said.

Hope Dudley works with the nonprofit U Can Speak for Me, which advocates for investigating unsolved homicide cases. Her son Chaz's killing remains unsolved.

"We need more technology, upgraded material to help continue to solve these cases. I would like to see more funding to go into the homicide department," she told WCPO.

Goodin's motion comes amid sustained calls on City Hall to reduce funding for the police department, in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer last May. As WCPO previously reported, CPD and other local police agencies already devote staff and resources to employing social workers, some of whom -- like Mingo -- respond to calls with sworn officers.

Goodin's motion -- which would require a follow-up ordinance to become legally binding -- did not specify a particular amount to set aside for a new CPD recruit class this year.

Goodin's colleague, Councilwoman Jan-Michele Kearney, has also put forward a motion suggesting how to spend some of the incoming stimulus money. Her proposal is to allocate $50 million as a one-time deposit into the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Kearney's motion is independent of a similar proposal headed before voters in May that would amend the City Charter to require City Council set aside $50 million annually for the housing trust fund.