CPD looks into splitting districts to better fight crime

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The Cincinnati Police Department could be getting creative in searching for solutions to ballooning crime rates in part of the city's West Side.
Officers working out of District Three headquarters in Price Hill patrol 14 neighborhoods, protecting 95,000 people all while covering 20 square miles of land.  They've responded to 2,746 violent and property crimes combined so far this year.

They handle some of the highest amounts of service calls in the city, and see some of the highest crime rates. Because of that, the district could eventually split into two smaller, more concentrated districts, this according to a memo FOX19 obtained on Thursday from the Cincinnati Police Department.
"We want crime to be like it was 15 years ago when it wasn't the issue it is today," said Pete Witte, a Price Hill business owner and neighborhood activist.
A solution to his issue could be contained in that memo, which suggests possibly dividing the district into "two distinct areas" and "would allow for a more focused, strategic, and service driven response in crime."
Police say that spike in crime, a massive coverage area, 14 gangs in the district, the number of reported crimes, and the city's growing Hispanic population are a few of the reasons why.
"When you just break it down by the sheer numbers, the volume, it almost makes sense that you would have to have two teams going after this problem," said Witte.
In May 2014, Chief Jeffrey Blackwell looked at the district's recent workload analysis and wanted Lt. Lisa Davis, the department's Community Liaison Commander, to determine if it was feasible to divide District Three into two areas.

The goal was to work in a smaller and more manageable areas because of the district's massive square mileage, according to that memo.

A five person team will now look at just how feasible it would be, including boundaries, costs, human resources, and other logistical items.
But, for some Price Hill residents, they like things the way they are.
"I think moving it wouldn't be the best idea.  I think it would cost more money to move it to another location than leave it where it's at now.  I think it's in a good area right now," said resident Jamal Taylor.
Taylor lives near the District Three building.  While he likes things the way they are, he understands the need.
"It's good to move forward and not backwards.  I can understand where they're coming from as far as wanting to spread the police officers. They're doing the best they can," Taylor said.
And, for some, doing the best they can means splitting this district in two.
"I think the idea is very much worth pursuing, and seeing, does this end up making sense for the city of Cincinnati," Witte told FOX19.
So far, there is no word on if, or when, a split would happen.
But, a big step in seeing if it would work is determining if the Computer Aided Dispatch system that's used would support the split.  The memo says it is possible, especially since an upgrade that is set to happen in 2015.

"This advantage will also enable us to analyze and recommend other changes citywide," Davis states in the memo.

A new District Three building is being built right now.  It will be closer to Westwood, near Western Hills High School.  The $16 million investment is expected to be complete in the spring of 2015.

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