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Ginther, Safety Officials Give Updates On Violence Prevention Programs

 Mayor Andrew Ginther speaks at a press conference giving updates on crime and violence prevention initiatives at Audubon Park on Oct. 5, 2021.
Matthew Rand
Mayor Andrew Ginther speaks at a press conference giving updates on crime and violence prevention initiatives at Audubon Park on Oct. 5, 2021.

Mayor Andrew Ginther joined city officials Tuesday afternoon to give updates on crime and violence prevention initiatives enacted this year.

Ginther said initiatives like the city's Growing Up program and its Violence, Outreach, Intervention and Community Engagement program — or VOICE — both aim to provide services like educational resources and support to those at risk of violence.

Ginther added that both initiatives have seen success in enrollment.

Over 75 people have enrolled in Growing Up, the city's program that provides educational resources, career coaching, and other services to young men in Linden since it launched in August.

To date, the VOICE program, which is a violence intervention program for gunshot wounds, stabbing, and assault victims between 18 and 40, has seen 28 enrollees. Ginther also mentioned the city's ReRoute program, which serves at-risk youth.

"Through GVI, or group violence intervention, we're working to identify individuals, and groups, trends, and geographic boundaries to focus our resources where they can do the most good for the most people," Ginther said.

Columbus Police Assistant Chief LaShanna Potts said these initiatives target violent groups in the city, which includes 17 active street gangs. Potts said that these groups are responsible for 36% of homicides, whether they be perpetrators, victims, or both.

"The same people responsible for that violence are also at the highest risk of being victimized themselves," Potts said.

The summer has seen multiple shooting incidents across the city, including one at Bicentennial Park and Far East Community Center — each where a teenage girl was shot and killed. Last month, the FBI announced up to a $25,000 reward for information on the Bicentennial Park shooting that killed 16-year-old Olivia Kurtz.

Potts said CPD's investigation for both cases are still ongoing and they can't say whether they are gang violence-related.

"We are looking at a segment of society that we know have a propensity for violence, and we're leveraging our resources to get those people in custody whenever we get the information on who they are," Potts said.

Michael Lee joined WOSU in 2021, but was previously an intern at the station in 2018. He is a graduate from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism where he obtained his master's degree, and an alumnus of Ohio State University. Michael has previously worked as an intern at the Columbus Dispatch and most recently, the Chicago Sun-Times.