CINCINNATI — Along a several hundred-yard stretch of East McMicken Ave. between Main and Vine Streets, 21 people have been shot in three years, according to data from the Cincinnati Police Department.
Police have tried several different strategies to prevent the violence in the Over-the-Rhine stretch and they continue to search for new solutions.
"Many of our neighborhoods, the entire neighborhood in that exact same time did not have 21 gunshot victims," Captain Matthew Hammer, commander for CPD District One. "So the concentration here is just astounding. It's number one in the city for that reason."
Capt. Hammer patrolled the area as a rookie officer in the 90s. Two years ago, he came back as the district's captain and saw the same violence issues that has forced children to come home from school in groups with chaperones.
"You just don't know when a shooting is going to happen," Misty Staken, who lives in the area. "Not too long ago when we had (moved into) this area a young boy had got shot on this playground right there and my boys are familiar with that young boy."
Extra patrols, long-term investigations, and targeted campaigns on drug trafficking and weapons crimes have changed little, even when they end in arrests.
"We've been doing it for years," Capt. Hammer said. "We still are where we are where the violence continues and it continues at this unacceptable level."
The department's new plan for the area involves a five-year-old PIVOT strategy used in Westwood that teams police, city codes enforcement, landlords and business owners willing to pressure out bad actors.
"My favorite book says that nothing is too hard for God," Kevin Corey, executive director for the Wesley Chapel Mission Center.
The center wants to be part of the solution by helping children and families. Their after-school program is open to any parent interested, especially those who live nearby.
"There is a lot of pain in this area," Corey said. "We have some kids who have relatives whose life has been affected by gun violence and by the affects of drugs."
The work is personal for Corey. He grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on welfare with a single mom who died when he was 16. Corey found life-changing opportunities through church. Now, the Marine-turned-police officer has a new mission.
"We don't look at like it's a challenge of oh there's all these homicides here," Corey said. "We're here to be that beacon, that light that reason to let kids know and families know that we care. We want to help you. We want your life to be better."