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Cincinnati police tackle the problem of 'community guns,' often involved in violence among teens

WCPO smale park.png
Posted at 6:40 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 18:51:16-04

CINCINNATI — Despite investigators’ belief that both shooters died at the scene, police still haven’t found the guns used in the Smale Park shooting that killed two teens and wounded three others.

But officers say teen violence of this kind is often linked to a recurring problem: “Community guns,” weapons tucked in public places for the anonymous use of anyone who knows their location.

“Juveniles, people with felony convictions, will usually hide that gun in a discreet location that is readily accessible to that group,” said Sgt. Jim Perkins, who leads the Cincinnati Police Department’s gun crimes task force.

These guns are easy to get, easy to use and easy to get rid of. They’re not linked to any individual user.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said he considers it a symptom of a bigger problem, especially with teens.

“These kids are starving for attention,” he said. “Community guns just make it easier. That’s what it is. It’s just a little convenience that they offer their friends.”

Between ShotSpotter, which uses audio surveillance to find shootings, and tracing technology from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, CPD officers are getting better at finding when and where community guns surface.

But Perkins and Deters think the biggest aid is a four-letter word: Tips.

“We can’t do it alone,” Perkins said. “We need the community to help us.”

Perkins’ team hopes building trust with its neighborhood partners in the city leads to more community gun seizures and key evidence in unsolved cases.