CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati city leaders denounced the city's recent spike in crime on Tuesday. Mayor Mark Mallory, Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher, City Manager Milton Dohoney, and Councilman Cecil Thomas all promised to get tough on drug dealers and gangs.
Twelve people have been killed in Cincinnati since the beginning of March. Eight of the homicides occurred in the last week in a half. No arrests have been made in any of the cases, but Police Chief Streicher said police do have leads. At a press conference in the West End on Tuesday afternoon, Chief Streicher also promised that officers would arrest everyone responsible for the crimes, but said police need the public's help to do it.
It's promising news for many families who have lost sons and daughters to violence. A fate Bridget Smith knows too well. Smith lost her son Leron Billings to gun violence in 2008.
"I just wish that everybody would think, " Smith said. "Before they pull the trigger on what they're doing to us.what they're going to do to that person's family. What they're going to do to themselves. "
Mayor Mallory acknowledged Smith's pain. He then asked everyone to step up, speak out, and stop the violence.
"There are people in this community who are suffering," Mayor Mallory said. "I will tell you that when a homicide occurs in this city, the entire community suffers."
Chief Streicher said a big part of the problem is that some of the killings are gang-related.
"Not many people come in and say I got robbed of my heroin," Streicher said. "Can you help me recover my heroin, and catch the guy who robbed me."
Chief Streicher said it's unclear how many of the murders are retaliatory in nature. But he did say the weather is also a factor. Streicher said every March for the last 10 years, he's seen a spike in violent crime.
The Chief then announced an operation to take some of the most violent drug dealers off the streets.
"You can stop selling today, but it's not going to help you," Streicher said. "The case is already done. It's built. We've got the evidence. We bought the guns. We bought the drugs. We've got the money. We've got it all. We've got you on camera. We've got you on film. It's matter of coming in with the indictment some early morning and saying it's time to go."
And time to speak out. Police and city leaders said they need witnesses to come forward, and sooner rather than later. It's a frustration shared by police, city leaders, and mothers mourning sons like Robin Moore.
"The people that killed my son are walking around everyday in Bond Hill," Moore said. "I know them. They know me. People know what happened, but they won't come forward and they won't tell. It's a code of silence."
Although there have been eight murders over the last week and a half, there are only two more murders compared to this time last year. The Cincinnati Police Department reports there have been 17 murders so far this year. At this same point in the year in 2009, police said there were 15 homicides.
Anyone with information is urged to call Crimestoppers: 513-352-3040.