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Volunteers, police hope cleanup in OTR changes perception of crime hot spot

East McMicken cleanup
Posted at 9:40 PM, Apr 22, 2022

CINCINNATI — Volunteers teamed up with Cincinnati police Friday to tackle a crime problem spot in Over-The-Rhine.

Over the last three years, the East McMicken corridor between Main and Vine streets has had more shootings than some Cincinnati neighborhoods. Lately, though, neighbors complain most about drug deals.

So, with permission from a property owner, volunteers painted a storefront on a vacant building and cleaned the area immediately around it. Between a used syringe with the needle still attached and shell casings, volunteers raked up piles of trash in hopes of changing perception.

"If things are more highly organized, if there's visible signs the community cares, I think that offenders are less likely to commit a crime in that space because they think they're more likely to be at risk for getting caught," said Capt. Matt Hammer, Cincinnati Police District 1 Commander.

Hammer said officers see more than a few people involved in crimes in the area driving in from other communities. Two months ago, his district launched a PIVOT strategy that teams police with property owners and anyone willing to help authorities target problem spots and push out troublemakers.

What volunteers did Friday is cosmetic. However, they think it helps change the way people view the area.

"If they see us cleaning up then maybe they'll feel like oh that looks pretty easy," said Sarah Mckenzie.

Mckenzie is the art program manager for Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, which oversaw the cleanup and painting.

"It's all folded into one another," said Megan Beck of 'Keep Cincinnati Beautiful. "It's a snowball effect — somebody cares. People know that they'll be here, they'll know that it's not okay."

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