CINCINNATI — In the wake of recent deadly shootings throughout the city, Cincinnati police Chief Eliot Isaac announced his department soon will launch a new Crime Gun Intelligence Center in an effort to stop violent crimes and remove guns from city streets.
The Westwood communities in particular have been rocked by recent gun violence.
“We’re not the police,” East Westwood Community Council member Rodney Christian said. “But we just don’t want that violence. That killing. We want it to stop. It has to stop.”
The area behind Third Presbyterian Church on McHenry Avenue has been designated as a safe space.
“In the neighborhoods, it’s so much negativity around, but when the kids come here, they don’t have to be hard; they don’t have to be tough,” East Westwood council vice president Robert Moore said. “It’s positive. We were playing basketball and we are praying, we’re feeding them and asking how their day was.”
Moore and fellow East Westwood council member Te’airea Powell, both of whom are running for Cincinnati City Council, grew up in the area and have first-hand experience with the dangers local kids are facing.
“Sometimes when they go home, a lot of them are dealing with adult issues,” Powell said. “They are not able to be children in the home, and (are) doing things that kids shouldn’t have to do.”
One of those things is dealing with violent crimes in their neighborhood.
“Spend more time in our communities and we need to highlight some of the great things that’s going on,” Christian said. “That’s when you get more people comfortable with talking to you. That’s when you get people making calls saying, ‘I don’t want that on my street.’”
Isaac seemed to agree. He spoke to reporters Tuesday about an increase in the number of illegal guns recovered, asking that community resources step in to help. He said that for there to be law and order, there needs to be partnership.
Christian agreed there, too.
“Help people learn to resolve conflicts,” Christian said. “Make sure young people know how to resolve conflict before they’re out in society and it doesn’t result in someone picking up a gun and two individuals having an argument and they end up shooting three little kids as they try to shoot each other.”
He said it would help if police focused on building relationships with community advocates and organizations.
“The people need to see consistency, not just when you want to get votes during election time,” Christian said.
East Westwood community leaders said they would rather police focus on profiling hot spots and locations where violent crimes occur. They believe holding property owners and businesses accountable would go a long way toward fighting violent crime.