City attacking violence 'like a disease'

Posted at 6:10 PM, Apr 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-18 18:10:02-04

CINCINNATI — Leaders are recommending the city of Cincinnati take a unique approach to stopping violent crime: Treat it like a disease.

The Violence Prevention Working Group told city officials and Human Services staff during a summit Monday morning that Cincinnati is a patient fighting an infection that may take several years to show itself.

City Council members and Working Group co-chairs, Yvette Simpson and David Mann — along with officials representing the Health and Police departments — used the disease metaphor to explain the way violence emerges, takes hold and spreads throughout a community.

“Kids hearing gunshots, then a kid witnessing a shooting, a kid being exposed to a violent interaction at school or at home,” Simpson said.

“Those are all things that are building up in that child.”

Referring to such risk factors as “exposure” the Working Group wants to identify children who are being exposed to violent crimes in their neighborhoods and intervene with social services or counseling when possible.

Cincinnati police’s data support the illness comparison, showing how violence historically occurs in clusters — much like an outbreak — in areas as small as 400 feet across. The Cincinnati Police Department 

Simpson said she hopes the program, in the long term, will mean less violent crime among Cincinnati’s future generations.

“We know that if we do that, ten years from now we’ll see fewer individuals who were exposed to this and less violence,” Simpson said.