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Mount Auburn neighbors, police work to reduce crime

Posted at 5:39 PM, Nov 12, 2018

CINCINNATI -- It wasn't long ago that violent crime was exploding along Reading Road in Mount Auburn and Walnut Hills.

In May 2015, there was what police called a "Wild West shootout" near the Shell gas station on Reading near McGregor Avenue. Stray bullets hit a Cincinnati Metro bus and the vehicle of a man driving his son to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

But now, violent crime has become less of a concern. The focus for some residents is now on drug dealers effectively using the area as a drive-thru. 

"People are able to come in from Kentucky off the expressway, buy their drugs, and get right back on the expressway," Stanley Broadnax, the Auburn Community Council president said. "That's one issue."

Now, a meeting of the minds may be changing things.

"The residents want to improve their quality of life, and improving their quality of life means reducing drug activity and crime," Broadnax said.

But police data show reported crime in the stretch is down, just as it is citywide.

"We want people to know, one: the police are going to be there," Capt. Martin Mack said. "The police ... are addressing those issues the community brings forth."

While the statistics show crime is down, residents still say they are seeing activity, according to Broadnax. But crimes aren't always reported.

"That sometimes can be a challenge, but we want to make sure we talk about the challenges as well as the good things that are taking place," Mack said.

For example, officers took about 40 guns off the streets in the area in the last month, Mack said. That's led to several arrests. And a recent "good neighbor" day brought together community members from various groups.

The community council is calling for more police visibility moving forward.

"We're hopeful that we can increase collaboration between the residents, the police and the agencies in that area," Broadnax said. 

Police and community members will talk about how to get a handle on crime and the progress that has already been made Tuesday at City Hall. 

There are already some initiatives in the works to turn the neighborhood around, including some city and private investment.

The City Council recently approved a tax abatement for Kingsley and Company to build a $14 million hotel less than a block from the site of that "Wild West shootout." 

It's the first subsidy the city has provided in Mount Auburn for a non-housing project in at least five years.

Residents are hoping the new business will provide a boost to the neighborhood.

"They're interested in working with the problem," Broadnax said. "They've been very cooperative with the community."

As part of the tax abatement deal, Kinglsey and Company will be looking to hire from within the neighborhood. They're also setting up a youth wellness program at nearby Taft Elementary.

"He's just more than a hotel and being a good neighbor," Broadnax said. "We're hoping, with bringing employment to that area, that that may help to stem some of the crime problem."