Smitherman calls for special session to reduce violence

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Smitherman is asking for a special session of council to address black on black violence in the city.

Monday Smitherman requested the police department provide the total number of murders by race, gender and location from January 2006 to December 2011.

A day later, Smitherman shared those numbers with the rest of council and the media to support his push to reduce homicides in the black community.

The most shocking for Smitherman are in the last three years. In 2010, 59 out of 73 victims were black. Last year it was 67 out of 70 and so far for 2012, 12 out of 14 murder victims were black.

"Seeing that over 80 percent of those homicides are African American is just alarming," says Smitherman.

Smitherman tells FOX19 the first step is admitting there is a problem and he hopes the numbers hit the other council members as hard as it hit him.

"We have to send a message that when you murder somebody we will find you, we will catch you, we will convict you and we will put you under the jail," says Smitherman.

Which is why he wants to pump more money into CIRV, Cincinnati's Initiative to Reduce Violence.

Started in 2007 CIRV is a community-based but city-funded program that puts advocates on the street to curb gang activity.

"CIRV is a strategy and that's something that came out of public policy discussions so the decisions that council makes can make a difference," says Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld.

Sittenfeld voted to restore $150,000 to CIRV's budget this year but says it takes more than money to make a difference.

"Preventing violence in our community, council has a role, the police department has a role, everybody has a role, parents have a role, teachers have a role," says Sittenfeld.

Smitherman wants to see the city put $2 million on the table for CIRV as well as find another $2 million from the private sector to fully fund CIRV and make a greater impact on violence.

City Council Special Session is scheduled for Monday April 23 at 6 p.m. in council chambers.

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