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'It is frustrating': In the wake of recent crime, Mayor Pureval says city is always prioritizing public safety

Pureval claims the city is "clear-eyed" on the issues it needs to tackle
Aftab Pureval
Posted at 7:59 PM, Jun 02, 2023

CINCINNATI — Just two days after four people, including two teens and a 10-year-old, were hurt in a drive-by shooting in broad daylight in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval is speaking about the recent rash of violent crime in the city's neighborhoods.

Pureval said the city's top three priorities are public safety, public safety and public safety.

The mayor's comments come after not only the OTR drive-by shooting, whose suspects remain unidentified and on the loose, but also a week filled with a total of 13 shootings, 17 victims — including kids — and one person killed.

"It is incredibly infuriating. It is frustrating," Pureval said. "I am unimaginably angry at the senseless violence that's taking place in our city, particularly affecting our kids, and it has to stop."

So far in 2023, 33 children have been shot, according to data from Cincy Insights. That's the highest that statistic has been in 15 years.

Pureval said that number — and the overall high level of crime tainting the city — makes him angry.

RELATED | Residents, city leaders react after shooting that hurt 4, including 10-year-old

"It's devastating. It's heartbreaking," he said. "You know, violence at any instance in our city is unimaginable and cannot happen but what's most tragic is the amount of kids who are now involved in shootings and the amount of perpetrators of violence that are kids."

He said it's important to look at every single child going through the legal system as an opportunity to win or lose a life. While doing so, he said it's imperative that the system holds juvenile offenders that have engaged in violent behavior accountable.

"If you are a violence criminal you should be held responsible," he said. "If that means being held or put in some kind of program that's fine, but at the end of the day, from my perspective as mayor, I cannot have violent people on the streets, continuing to perpetuate violence."

Legislatively, Pureval claims everyone in the city building is "clear-eyed" about the work they must do to erase the violence.

Is that truly reflected in city council's latest initiatives?

When looking at city council's May meeting agendas, gun violence was only addressed once in the month in regard to allocating money for gun violence reduction initiatives through the Safe & Clean Program.

The mayor said the city is focused on beefing up law enforcement, investing in social services, helping with youth employment and more as ways the city is prioritizing public safety.

"We are approaching this comprehensively but also leading with law enforcement," Pureval said. "The very first thing that we are doing is making sure that law enforcement has the resources necessary but also are innovating to make sure those resources last as long as possible."

Pureval didn't give specific numbers but said the city is trying to provide police resources by increasing recruitment classes, rethinking bonus structures, overtime and more to increase law enforcement numbers. He also said the city is providing more patrol cars and bike officers for a heightened presence within communities.

In the city's proposed $1.59 billion budget for the next two years, there are three police recruit classes laid out collectively costing $6,259,940. The budget also proposes increasing police operating funds fro CPD by $2,428,410.

RELATED | Cincinnati biennial budget proposal raises public safety funding but warns of budget deficit

Outside of law enforcement, Pureval said social services will get a combined $3.1 million for crime prevention programming, jobs and crime mitigation.

"But at the end of the day, we need the full wrap-around community, including parents, including the teachers, including the faith leaders to work together with us when we know the violence is about to occur," he said. "When we know there's a chance of violence to let the appropriate people know not so we can fill our jails, but so we can prevent the violence in the first place."

Pureval said it "doesn't help anyone" if Cincinnati carries the perception that it's dangerous. That potential perception also comes as the city continues to fund downtown projects, such as the Duke Energy Center Convention Hotel

"We're making massive investments in our urban core and specifically our downtown," Pureval said. "... the future of Cincinnati depends on these investments being successful, and in order for them to be successful, public safety has to be a priority."

As Pureval, the city, community groups and more look to curb gun and youth violence, he still invites people to enjoy everything Cincinnati has to offer.

"There's no doubt that we have to get the violence under control, but there's so much positive, positivity and excitement in the city as well," Pureval said. "I firmly believe that our future is bright."

You can watch Mayor Pureval's full interview with WCPO below:

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