Cincinnati police chief calls on community to help end to gun violence

There were nine shootings reported on Saturday & Sunday, some involving youth
This comes amid an increase in shootings, especially involving youth.
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 7:51 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2023 at 12:47 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Cincinnati leaders and officials announced Thursday a plan to keep the community safer in response to the recent rise in gun violence, specifically toward the city’s youth.

On Saturday and Sunday, the city saw one of its most violent weekends with nine reported shootings, one of them leaving a 7-year-old girl with a gunshot wound.

The shooting spree also led to shots being fired at multiple officers. One man barricaded himself and began opening fire at a SWAT team.

“Our children should be focused on school, focused on enjoying the summer days and the time with their friends without the fear of being shot in our city,” Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval said. “[...] But law enforcement alone will not solve these challenges as we’ve said over and over and over again. As you’ll hear from City Manager Long, we’re making transformative investments in community violence prevention and in particular, youth violence prevention.”

A new approach to ensure safety

Cincinnati Police Chief Teresa Theetge outlined several key points that she and city leaders believe will help keep communities safer:

  • Continue community engagement, specifically with the youth.
  • Highly focus on violent crime territories using Place-Based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories (PIVOT).
  • Increase police and SWAT visibility in the streets and over the weekends.
    • This will include giving overtime to officers due to staffing shortages.
  • Deploy a summer traffic blitz to recover guns.

While the Cincinnati Police Department continually hosts youth engagement opportunities, such as Camp Joy or their cadet program, Chief Theetge says oftentimes, the kids and teens that come to those events are not the ones breaking the law.

“One of the things we need to do is concentrate on reaching out to the youth who are involved in criminal activity,” she said. “Are we engaging with the right youth?”

To help solve that issue, the chief is asking the community to help police identify youth who may be involved in illegal activities and to help out with some of the camps or programs the police department offers.

Earlier during the press conference, Mayor Pureval mentioned city council’s two recent gun safety ordinances which require all gun owners to lock up their weapons properly and prevent someone with a domestic violence conviction from owning a firearm.

According to Cincinnati police data, officers have recovered 593 firearms since the beginning of 2023.

Out of the 307 firearms reported stolen, 48% of them were stolen from a vehicle, reports indicate.

“Anybody can go to one of our five districts and get gun locks,” the chief said. “We also go out into the community at events and distribute those gun locks. I cannot stress that enough to responsible gun owners. If you don’t have a gun lock, come see one of us, we will get you one.”

In addition to their efforts, police are also trying to find community crime guns which are firearms used in a crime that are hidden in the city for someone else to use later.

“To the community who knows about those [community crime guns], our ask is to tell us where they are,” Chief Theetge said. “You don’t have to tell us who you are - tell us where these guns are so we can get them off the street before they harm somebody else, and then we will take it from there. Just tip us off for where these guns may be.”

“Volunteer, get involved”

While Chief Theetge listed ways law enforcement will work to curb gun violence, she also says the community can help.

“My specific ask is from the faith-based community, volunteer, get involved. From non-profits, volunteer, get involved. And from our businesses - big and small in the city - volunteer and get involved. You will be part of the solution for the city,” she said.

In addition, having conversations with Cincinnati’s youth can help as well, Theetge said in reference to a video she showed of a teen with a firearm in each hand.

“The video I showed you, that was not the first day that that young man had a gun in his hand. He may have posted it on social media sometime in the past. Somebody knows that he had a gun in his hand at some time. Call us, tell us that, before he/she ends up in a critical incident,” the chief emphasized.

Watch the full press conference with the link below.

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