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Columbus is pushing safety initiatives and summer programming to prevent crime

Columbus Police bike officers at a protest in downtown Columbus in 2018.
Becker1999
/
Flickr

As summer approaches, Columbus is deploying more bike cops and other police officers to city streets and high visibility areas to push back on an increase in crime.

Mayor Andrew Ginther, Assistant Police Chief LaShanna Potts and other city officials announced additional public safety moves and plans for summer programming at a press conference in Nelson Park Thursday. Potts said the city wants to take the efforts it has deployed for the last three weeks in the Short North to the rest of the city.

"We will continue to leverage our resources to disrupt violent, disruptive behavior of any kind, not just in the Short North, but in the Hilltop on the East Side in Linden, any and everywhere where we are needed," Potts said.

Police stepped up enforcement in the Short North following back-to-back weekends of shootings in May, adding surveillance and restricted parking. The city put a focus on reckless driving and street takeover events.

Potts also announced the city is easing late night parking restrictions in the Short North. Parking on the southbound lane of High Street will be permitted after all parking was restricted for the last month between Goodale Street and 5th Avenue.

Potts said the city's "Operation Moonlight" is getting a $400,000 funding increase, compared to last year, to voluntarily ask police officers to work overtime, bringing the total funding to $2 million to pay for this overtime. The operation adds 40 officers to high visibility areas, like community centers and pools.

Columbus' "Safe Streets" program is returning this summer with a fleet of bike cops patrolling parts of the city and engaging with the community.

A city press release gave statistics on how the bike cops impacted the community last year:

  • They checked 375 businesses, churches and schools
  • Attended 169 community events
  • Worked 523 hours attending community meetings and events
  • Made 107 felony arrests
  • Seized 96 firearms
  • And spent more than 2,000 hours on their bikes

"We will continue to monitor our data so that officers are put where they need to be," Potts said.
In addition to these public safety operations, Columbus is urging parents to supervise their children, enforce curfew and get young people involved in summer programming to divert them from illegal and reckless behavior.

The city approved $20 million last week for summer programming to steer children and teens away from violent behavior. About $9 million of that money is for 90 community organizations.

Ginther asked parents and guardians to stand up and do everything they can to keep kids and teens safe.

"The city is doing everything we can to protect children and families and to make all of our neighborhoods safer. But a lot of this hinges on vigilance, accountability and communication within the home as well," Ginther said.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.