Though Northside’s overall violent crime rate has decreased consistently and significantly over the past four years, there have been a lot of burglaries here lately. As our frustrations grow with many “breaking and enterings” happening all over Northside this past summer, we as a community need to consider what we can do in order to help make our neighborhood a safer one.
Northside is lucky to have a strong ongoing dialogue with Cincinnati Police Department’s District 5. The District 5 Police make every effort to engage our residents, reporting at our monthly public meetings, and remaining accessible by phone or email. The first item on the agenda is always a District 5 Police Report at both the Northside Business Association meeting (the first Monday of the month, 6pm at Happen, Inc.) and at the Northside Community Council meeting (the third Monday of the month, 7pm at the McKie Center). This is a perfect time to hear from the local police about current crime issues and trends in Northside, an excellent opportunity to ask questions, and meet and, perhaps the best thing of all, to meet your neighbors. This police report will often extend longer than what was planned in order to continue the conversation as needed.
Reacting to the increased burglaries in the neighborhood, about 100 concerned Northside residents met with District 5 Sgt. Jason Voelkerding, Officer Joe Boyle, and Officer Melissa Cummins at the McKie Center on September 12. Discussed at the meeting:
• Crime is in fact down (and statistics do bear this out). Often, crime rates aren’t necessarily growing, but access to social media makes more people aware of crimes committed, so often there’s a perception of more crime as a result.
• Citizens on Patrol (COP) is very effective, citizens-based trained group of volunteers that help patrol the streets and reduce blight. The group badly needs additional volunteers.
• A “Good-Guys Loitering” group would be supported by CPD – police would come and stay with us for a “takeover” of Fergus park, for example.
• Drug deals have changed, it’s no longer kids on the corner, it’s cell phones used to coordinate car pickups, and it’s very difficult to catch or stop.
• Turn on exterior lights and fortify your homes and apartments: CPD will do a security assessment of your home upon request. Lock ALL of your doors and windows and turn on your radio, regardless of how short the time you plan on being gone.
• Don’t leave any visible belongings in your vehicle. Many cars are broken into merely for the loose change visible from outside the car.
• There is safety in numbers; always travel in groups when possible. Avoid poorly lit streets, overgrown shrubbery, and dark doorways.
• Alleys are an issue; cleanups are a must. The city does not cut back growth in the alleys’ public right-of-way as they once did. These alleys are becoming crime-ridden.
• Get to know your neighbors and keep communicating about burglaries. For example: if your neighbor is robbed, chances are much higher that another neighbor will be hit in the following 14 days. Engage with your neighbors. Talk to your older neighbors who may not be tuned in electronically, let them know what’s happening.
• CPD is a presence on several Facebook forums, they use the information as part of their street-level efforts. Enroll yourself in the NextDoor app as well – sign up at nextdoor.com.
• If you see or hear anything suspicious, CALL DISTRICT 5! Patrols are assigned based on the number of call-ins to the police. If you see a drug deal going down five times a day in front of your house, you need to call in a report to District 5 five times that day.
The bottom line: we need to engage with our neighborhood, yes, we can take it back! Be aware! Talk to the police!
Cincinnati Police Department Contacts:
• EMERGENCY 911
• Non-Emergency 513-765-1212
• District 5 Front Desk 513-569-8500
• Sgt. Jason Voelkerding 513-569-8506 firstname.lastname@example.org
• P.O. Melissa Cummins513-569-8595 melissa.cummins@ cincinnati-oh.org
• P.O. John Boyle 513-569-8593
BY: JAMES HELLER-JACKSON