WCPO's editorial board met with each of the three candidates for mayor of Cincinnati. We asked each the same questions. We'll report their answers in a series of articles leading up to Tuesday's primary.
Question: Describe a plan, and please be specific, to reduce gun violence, both in the short-term and the long-term.
It’s a hard and a soft strategy… We’ve added a significant number of recruit classes, and added a net 100 cops to the force. Size does matter.
Just answering 911 calls and calls for service is a huge investment. At 900 or 920 cops, that’s all you have time to do. About 1,075 would be my ideal number that I think we could afford sustainably … That extra 150 cops or so allows us to do the proactive policing to do -- right -- the gang violence, the undercover work, the intelligence, the relationship building that is so necessary to develop a good relationship with the community and to figure out who the bad guys are, to really target and proactively reduce crime.
We’ve not only revived CIRV, but we’ve modified it to add a place-based element to it. We call it PIVOT now, which combines not only the hard strategy on the policing side but it brings in our law department, our code enforcement to deal with problem properties that allow criminal activity to occur.
On the soft side, it’s continuing to invest in outreach workers, the Partnering Center, working with communities in a collaborative way to identify needs and problems for economic neighborhood development.
CIRV, Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence, is designed to impact gun-related violence among chronic violent offenders affiliated with street gangs.
Note: PIVOT stands for Place-Based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories. The program uses data to identify violent locations and disrupt the networks of people who use those locations for crime.
The Community Police Partnering Center is composed of community stakeholders and members of the Cincinnati Police Department who work on strategies to reduce crime and increase trust between the police and neighborhoods.
The short-term is difficult. The reality is that the gun violence we’re seeing has been in motion for a long time. So we have to use law enforcement as a way to deal with the gun violence we’re seeing today.
Really, the start of this was years ago. That means we’ve got to work with our law enforcement to identify the individuals that we know who are currently bringing guns into our community.
I believe in my heart if you want to deal with gun violence it’s a long-term issue. So our strategy in the long-term is to work on violence prevention. We’ve got several pilots right now that we’re working on in communities, in schools and in families. This strategy says violence doesn’t occur in a vacuum, it occurs as a result of exposure to violence. Like a disease, it spreads one to another. If the disease goes untreated, if people aren’t properly vaccinated, if you don’t contain it, it will repeat. That’s the model that the CDC put out and it’s one that other cities are replicating.
So our model looks at the three approaches – families, communities and individuals -- and begins to deal with this trauma that naturally exists. We know that there are children in our community who experience what they call adverse childhood experiences. A great number of our kids experience three or more of them by the time they reach adolescence. We believe that the exposure to adverse childhood experiences, coupled with the violence that they are exposed to, creates a condition where violence can occur when they are adults.
If you wait until today, law enforcement is your only option, and it’s reactive.
We’re going to target hotspots.
There’s an initiative out of Detroit called Project Green Light. It looks at hotspots. Our officers know where these places are. They can be gas stations … Cameo would have been a hotspot. If you have a place like this, and it’s deemed a hotspot, your business will have to implement camera technology on the outside and our officers will have real-time access to what happens there.
This can both help us protect the patrons and the people in the area but also help prevent future shootings. That, I believe, will have an immediate impact.
We also have to have an approach that makes sure that the people that are committing these crimes are actually held accountable. One of our largest issues is being able to protect the witnesses that want to come forward and would come forward if they had the ability to be protected. We have a witness protection program, but it needs to be ramped up a lot more, and it needs to be at such a level that if people want to report a crime, they and their families will actually be protected. That program is going to need more investment to make it more robust.
We also have to have an approach for the long-term. We need to take CIRV and expand it out a little bit. Work with as many employers as we can to see folks that have been involved in the criminal justice system, maybe made some mistakes but want to take a different path, to use CIRV to also offer them that path. Many times if you’ve committed a felony, you can’t get a job. If you can’t get a job, if you’re excluded from any opportunity to improve your life, the likelihood is that you’re going to go back into crime. That makes it more dangerous and more expensive for all of us.