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Mayor Andrew Ginther discusses crime prevention, growth in State of the City address

City of Columbus

During a pre-recorded State of the City address Tuesday, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther praised efforts the city has made toward reducing crime and increasing affordable housing, and outlined initiatives he says will further those goals.

Ginther’s office stated in an email that the address wasn’t made live because Ginther began recording the speech during the pandemic, and continued it this year because of the ongoing risk of COVID-19, and also because it is flu season.

The speech included positive media clips featuring Ginther from the last several years, interviews he conducted with city residents and a speech about new initiatives and challenges from the last couple of years.

Ginther focused on crime prevention, development and affordable housing, the expansion of city services, ongoing projects and efforts to be more inclusive.

The construction of a new public safety campus and police substation in northeast Columbus with a "real-time crime center" and an "intelligence hub" will help the city combat crime, Ginther said.

“We're in the process of a significant reorganization of our police forces for the first time in 10 years, studying the data we've been collecting and reallocating our resources to make sure we have the right number of officers in the right parts of the city at the right times," he said.

Ginther referred to the need to reduce the flow of "illegal crime guns" into the community, which he said caused more than 90% of homicides in the city.

“We're also hiring additional attorneys to prosecute gun crimes more aggressively as part of an ongoing partnership between the city the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Ohio and the ATF," Ginther said.

Ginther said the city will continue pushing back against state legislation.

“Unfortunately, the state legislature has put in place the most dangerous and reckless gun policies in the history of the state. But we're fighting back," Ginther said. "We've passed common sense gun safety measures, like limiting the number of rounds in a magazine, demanding safe storage for guns and increasing penalties for shady firearms dealers.”

He said the city's efforts aren't to punish all gun owners, but to get "illegal crime guns off our streets.”

The new city office aimed at violence prevention is the "first of its kind in the state" and will "coordinate our public safety and violence prevention responses citywide and further enhance our effectiveness when it comes to reducing violent crime,” Ginther said.

When it comes to development, Ginther said the city welcomes more of it, even after growing faster than any other Ohio city.

“We can always make room for more neighbors as long as we make decisions now that enable us to grow in a dynamic and inclusive way," he said.

Ginther added, “What we need now is a new model for how we conceptualize and greenlight future growth. We need more housing of every type and every price point.”

He said the entire region needs to "double the number of units coming to market in the next 15 years."

Ginther praised the affordable housing bonds approved by voters in recent years, which he said resulted in money that is being used to encourage developers to build units that are affordable.

Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News.