Extra patrols, 'God Squad' ramping up downtown security

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Police are boosting security this weekend as three major events are bringing thousands of people downtown.

It's a lesson Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell says he learned when the son of Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and his girlfriend were attacked while leaving the Taste of Cincinnati in May.

"I think you learn as you go. And hopefully each event allows you to get better," Blackwell said.

Better security is what he wants for this weekend as the Macy's Music Festival, the Reds game and the Taste of OTR bring thousands downtown.

"Our mission is for the next 48 to 72 hours is to make Cincinnati the safest city in America," Blackwell went on.

Cincinnati Police are putting all hands on deck. They canceled some officers days off, brought in officers from other districts and have put investigators, who usually where a suit and tie, back into their traditional uniform to create a larger police presence.

However, seeing more uniforms on the street doesn't necessarily appeal to everyone, which is why police have added the God Squad. It's a program using different faiths to act as peace ambassadors.

"They don't see us as being domineering but they see us as being helpful and encouraging," said Peterson Mingo, Pastor at Christ Temple for god Baptist church.

Gene Ellington, Senior Pastor at Consolation Baptist Church, agrees with Reverend Mingo. Specifically teens need to be surrounded by people they already have a relationship with, to keep them out of trouble.

"I think people need to know that we simply care. And often times a calming voice, a show of compassion can de-escalate a situation," Ellington said.

Ellington plans to be walking around downtown with police and citizens on patrol, adding another tactic to Cincinnati's police force.

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