Saturday, October 2, 2004

Crime sweeps help this week


Price Hill began the week reeling from the murder of a teenager, and ended it with a police sweep that can help the city make significant inroads in keeping violence away.

The timing and location of the sweep, which also included six other neighborhoods, was purely coincidence. It was planned before Sunday's shooting death of West Price Hill resident and Elder High School student Maurice Kennedy, yet it is the kind of obviously needed action in Price Hill that citizens have been calling for. The results should help ease the fears of residents.

After Kennedy died, Price Hill residents seemed more motivated to do something to crack down on disruptive behavior in the neighborhood. City Councilmen called for more police, and complained about easy access to firearms and groups of unsupervised teens roaming the streets.

The two-day crime sweep also targeted Westwood, the West End, Fay Apartments, Northside, Pendleton, Over-the-Rhine and Madisonville. In all, police arrested 191 people, including nine juveniles, on various charges, including prostitution and illegal possession of firearms.

That's important, because as the Kennedy case showed, the introduction of guns into an argument can be the difference between a fight with injuries and a death. The sweep took eight guns off the street.

No one wants to see any Cincinnati neighborhood decline because of criminal behavior. When one neighborhood becomes troubled, it undermines the livability of the entire city. Residents begin to move out, and worse, new residents become afraid to move in.

We're hopeful that the communities targeted with sweeps this week will continue to speak out against thuggery and violence that threaten their neighborhoods.

In Price Hill, forums will be held soon to hear recommendations from citizens about other ways to increase safety.

Other neighborhoods soon will be able to access cameras mounted above busy public thoroughfares in business districts in Walnut Hills, East Walnut Hills, College Hill and the western side of Over-the-Rhine. The cameras will feed video via the Internet to community representatives, who can then report criminal activity to police if they see it.

"Think of it as a 'video citizens on patrol,'" City Councilman David Pepper said. "The point is to have more eyes and ears on some of these critical public spaces, and if something does happen, you've got a tape of it."

Pepper said the city would take time to judge the effectiveness of cameras, particularly in business districts.

That's just one of a myriad of creative ways the city can help combat crime.

Increased police visibility, including foot patrols, is another, as are sweeps like the one that occurred this week. They send an important signal to criminals.

But the first line of defense must come from citizens who want to save their neighborhoods, and have the courage to do so by working with police to keep the bad guys out.

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