Cincy City Council split on crime fighting methods

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Two Cincinnati city council members have been going at it over the last couple of weeks on how to deal with the problem of black-on-black violence in the city. At Monday's special session of council, Councilman Christopher Smitherman wants to increase reward money to entice the public to come forward with information and reduce black-on-black crimes. Councilman Cecil Thomas wants more money to beef up a citizen patrol.

One councilman took offense to calling it "black-on-black" crime. "I commend people who are not of color who are here but there is no doubt in my mind had this been framed as a city wide issue the complexion in this room would be far different than it is," said Wendell Young.

Smitherman said Police Chief James Craig outlined a clear-cut plan on how to tackle the violence problem. "I found this (meeting) to be incredibly productive. It saddens me to hear council members who have been here for a long period of time hear the chief say, we need a real cold case division to solve this issue and I like city council moving in the direction of actually putting up reward money," said Smitherman

Chief Craig said it goes beyond a money issue. "Police work is based on the relationships we have with the community and the willingness of a community to come forward and provide that information," said Craig.

Councilman Cecil Thomas, the chairman of the Public Safety Committee said something is being done with CIRV - the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence. "It would be great if somebody wanted to give additional money to Crimestoppers, that's fine," said Thomas. "But I think, as the chief indicated, there are other components that are much more important that needs to be put back in place." Namely--CIRV, which had its budget slashed by about 80% in 2009.

There will be a chance for the public to voice concerns at a meeting of the Public Safety Committee on May 1 at 2 p.m. at City Hall.

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