In response to a recent surge in gun violence, particularly targeting the city’s youth, leaders and officials in Cincinnati, Ohio, have unveiled a comprehensive plan aimed at curbing violence and creating a safer environment for children this summer.
The plan, presented by city authorities during a press conference, calls community engagement and collaborative efforts in addressing the violence in the wake of several incidents, including the shooting of a 7-year-old girl in Avondale and a drive-by shooting in Over-The-Rhine.
The violence left three children and an adult injured. The alarming frequency of such incidents has compelled city officials to unite in their resolve to combat gun violence.
Addressing the community, Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval highlighted the need for collective responsibility.
“Children near a park were gunned down in broad daylight. A 7-year-old outside of her home was shot in the stomach. We’re all to blame.”
Pureval added that the responsibility of every member of the community, including religious leaders, the judicial system, law enforcement agencies and parents must actively contribute to the city’s safety initiatives.
Cincinnati Police Chief Teresa Theetge also spoke on the role of law enforcement to combat the trend.
She presented body-camera footage that depicted a 15-year-old confronting and shooting at officers, showcasing how the police were able to arrest the teenager without returning fire.
Chief Theetge urged the community to report any individuals who should not possess firearms, stressing the importance of early intervention.
She also encouraged citizens to provide anonymous tips to the police.
“Call us. Tell us that before he or she ends up in a critical incident, firing upon the police, firing at a citizen, being fired at,” Chief Theetge said. “Call us and let us know what they’re involved in. You can stay anonymous. That’s no problem. Let us do the work. Just tip us off.”
According to city officials, the new violence prevention initiative involves multiple strategies, including an increased police presence in high-crime areas and during special events, as well as the deployment of additional officers to identified hotspots.
Moreover, the city administration plans to enforce the safe storage ordinance, which mandates proper firearm security. Many of the firearms used in crimes are stolen, with a significant portion coming from unsecured vehicles.
City manager Sheryl Long urged gun owners to store their weapons safely using gun locks or lock boxes to prevent theft or unauthorized access.
To facilitate community involvement and incentivize innovative approaches, Long announced the availability of grants worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for individuals or groups proposing effective measures to combat gun violence.
Former officer and current city councilman Scotty Johnson passionately appealed to the citizens of Cincinnati, urging their active participation in making the city the safest in the country.
“Citizens of Cincinnati, what are you gonna do? Please, I’m begging. I don’t mind begging on this. Come join us in this effort to make Cincinnati the safest city in the country,” the councilman pleaded.
In addition to law enforcement efforts, Chief Theetge highlighted the significance of community engagement, specifically targeting at-risk youth involved in criminal activities.
“My specific ask is from the faith-based community, volunteer, get involved. From nonprofits, volunteer, get involved. And from our businesses — big and small in the city — volunteer and get involved. You will be part of the solution for the city,” she said.
The Cincinnati Police Department also pledged to intensify its outreach programs and camps such as Camp Joy or the department’s cadet program.
“One of the things we need to do is concentrate on reaching out to the youth who are involved in criminal activity,” she said. “Are we engaging with the right youth?”
The collective effort to combat gun violence in Cincinnati ultimately aims to create an environment where children can pursue their education and enjoy their summer days without fear.
“Our children should be focused on school, focused on enjoying the summer days and the time with their friends without the fear of being shot in our city,” Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval said in a press conference. “[…] But law enforcement alone will not solve these challenges as we’ve said over and over and over again. As you’ll hear from city manager Long, we’re making transformative investments in community violence prevention and in particular, youth violence prevention.”