Crime is up; Funding for program to stop it is down

Violent crime is on the rise in Cincinnati.

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The city actually leads the state when it comes to homicide rates. At last count, Cincinnati had a violent death rate of 21.6 per 100,000 people. Seventy-two people were murdered in 2010. That is about a 20 percent increase from 2009. Cleveland has the second-highest rate followed by Columbus and then Toledo.

Those numbers have many calling for increased funding to Cincinnati's Initiative to Reduce Violence, or CIRV. The problem is City Council just slashed funding for the program to nearly one-fifth of what its budget once was: from $860,000 to $184,000.

CIRV was created back in 2007 as a way to cut crime.

Members target gun violence through marches and rallies. Over the years, city leaders have said they've seen a decrease in homicides, but last year, Council slashed funding for the group in an effort to balance the budget. Those cuts have meant reducing the staff from 16 employees to five.

The program was modeled after a similar initiative in Boston. It's called the Boston Gun Project, and was formed in the mid-1990s. It's a partnership among multiple law enforcement agencies and the community to deliver a clear message to violent street groups: the violence must stop.

Council Member Cecil Thomas said the Queen City is experiencing the same regret as leaders in Beantown.

"When Boston started to have a positive impact {on crime,}" said Thomas. "They said 'okay, things are better now and they cut it out.' Immediately the violence started to go up."

On the flip side of the issue, some city leaders say Cincinnati is facing nearly a $60-million deficit and something had to go.

CIRV leaders said they understand we're all dealing with tough times financially, and are now calling the community to step up.

"People are still sitting at home while our babies are getting shot in these streets," said Reggie Brazzile, CIRV's Community Program Director. "And so before we can ask anyone else to do for self, we have to do for self. We need men to get up off their butts and get in these streets and stop some of this shooting and some of this violence."

Brazzile is asking men to come out and take a stand on Friday. He's calling men of all races and ages to meet at the South Avondale School at 2pm on Friday to walk children home.

Still, Thomas says the city needs to do its part

Thomas told FOX19 he is now working with Cincinnati Police Department to find an immediate solution to the problem. He will present his report next Tuesday. He said Cincinnati Police will also be present. Representatives will talk about their new plan to reduce violence, as well.

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