Neighborhood Leaders Announce Press Conference on Public Safety
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- October 17, 2011 6:47 pm at 6:47 pm #88687
PRESS RELEASE: PUBLIC SAFETY PRESS CONFERENCE FOR NEAR SOUTH AND NEAR EAST NEIGHBORHOODS
(Columbus, OH) Columbus Compact Corporation (“the Compact”), in conjunction with Olde Towne East Block Watch, will hold a Press Conference on Wednesday, October 19th at 11:00, at the corner of E. Main Street and 18th Street, in Olde Towne East. In the event of rain, the press conference will be moved to the conference room (2nd floor) at 1000 E. Main Street.
Both groups, along with many other neighborhood groups, have been seeking to engage the City of Columbus in developing a comprehensive action plan targeting illegal drug activity and its associated gun violence in Columbus’s central city neighborhoods. To date, this initiative is supported by the Franklin Park Area Association, Bronzeville Neighborhood Association, Driving Park Civic Association, Fair Avenue Block Watch, Franklin Park Block Watch, Miami Avenue Civic Association, Morrison Hill Block Watch, Livingston Park Civic Association, Ohio-Parsons Block Watch, Old National Road Business Association, Old Oaks Civic Association, Olde Towne East Neighborhood Association, Woodland Park Neighborhood Association, and Near East Area Commission, with other groups being added daily.
On August 20, 2010, nine leaders of various Near East Area community groups by letter invited top Columbus area officials to a September 9, 2010 meeting to address long-standing community safety issues. The invitees included Ron O’Brien (Franklin County Prosecutor), Andy Ginther (Chair of Council’s Safety Committee), Rick Pfeiffer (Columbus City Attorney), Mitchell Brown (Director of Columbus Department of Public Safety), and Walter Distlezweig (Columbus Chief of Police). The meeting invitation said:
“we believe it would be beneficial to establish a working group comprised of decision makers and key implementers … so we can come together to address the perceptions outlined above, and to develop a plan of attack to eliminate these long-standing problems. Our effort here is to establish a sense of mutual accountability and joint goal-setting that will address festering issues and increase community safety, so that the July 30th shooting at McAllister and Champion, the August 8th shooting at Mound and Champion, or the earlier gun battle at Main & Lilley, are a part of our history, but not a part of our future.”
Pursuant to that invitation, on September 9th twenty-eight (28) leaders from various administrative offices and neighborhood groups met at the 12th Precinct Police Substation to begin a dialogue on area safety. The Public Safety Department and the Division of Police responded to the concerns immediately, with a stepped-up policing effort. The group met twice more, on October 12th, and November 16th. At that November 16th meeting, the Department of Public Safety shared the encouraging results of its increased policing effort, with felony arrests; arrests on outstanding warrants; heroin, cocaine and marijuana drug seizures; guns recovered; and a variety of other positive impacts. Clearly, the enhanced policing effort worked; however, there was also a recognition that such a policing effort could not be sustained, and that more systemic changes were needed to solidify the gains made by our police officers on the street. We left the meeting with an agreement that Council would begin working on enhancing the City’s existing, but unconstitutional, Loitering in Aid of Drug Offenses law (C.C. 2317.50) as one step in creating systemic change.
Unfortunately, council assignments changed in January, and despite the best efforts of council staff to coordinate a meeting, it was May 16, 2011—a full six months after council’s commitment to move forward — before a follow-up meeting was held with the new Safety Committee Chair, Michelle M. Mills. The meeting did not go well, as Ms. Mills expressed her clear disdain for the effort. Emailed communications from various members of the community to Council woman Mills in June went unacknowledged by that office. On July 12, 2011, Councilwoman Mills held a hearing on enhancements to the City’s trespassing penalties, and ten of our community members attended that public hearing with several speaking on behalf of our now-stalled public safety initiative. Councilwoman Mills, on camera, promised to follow-up, but did not do so at all in any respect. There were a number of other drug-related shootings in the area through the summer, with the assassination of a 22 year old being video recorded as he was shot and killed in the middle of E. Main Street. That video seemed to trigger a spark, and finally, on September 29th, a meeting was held with neighborhood representatives of our working group, and Council President Ginther and Safety Committee Chair Mills.
The meeting objectives were defined by neighborhood representatives as:
1. To confirm that council understands how critical an issue these drug and gun violence issues are in our neighborhood, and to confirm that council will work in partnership on an effort to reduce them, and
2. To develop the outlines of an agreed framework for moving forward in partnership to reduce these issues, and to commit to specific milestones for implementation of a demonstration project.
At the meeting, we laid out the framework for what we thought a comprehensive solution would involve – a proposed Demonstration Project with details to be worked out in partnership over the coming six months. Unfortunately, Council would agree to neither meeting objective, promising instead to consult with the Safety Director, and get back to us within two weeks.
Two weeks has come and gone without the promised response or follow-up from Council, and it is time for action. Clearly, the neighborhoods have done their part in attempting to address these issues through collaboration with elected and appointed local officials. In the spirit of proposing workable solutions and not merely sounding complaints, the community working group will on Wednesday, October 19th, at 11:00AM, lay out to the public its definition of the various safety issues, and its proposal for a plan of action which we hope will be adopted by Columbus City Council as part of the 2012 Columbus City Budget.
At the press conference, we will release findings from a recent attitudinal survey conducted of Near South and Near East area residents, business owners, and other stakeholders. The survey reports the perspectives of these area stakeholders on various issues related to public safety, the specific problems these area stakeholders observe in their community, and the perceptions of where strategies and accountability for change should be placed. We will also release the rationale and outline of a comprehensive, multi-agency demonstration project that would attack illegal drug markets and the attendant gun violence. The Franklin County Prosecutor and Administrative Judge for the Franklin County Municipal Court have agreed to participate in a multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency effort – but we need the City of Columbus to engage as well.
We have invited all candidates seeking election to Columbus City Council to attend the press conference, hear our discussion of the problems, see our recommended solutions, and react or respond with a plan of their own. Each interested candidate will have 3-5 minutes to address the press and our community. In our discussions with other neighborhood leaders across the city, we understand that these issues are not unique to our neighborhoods in the Near East and Near South areas – but we are mobilized here and prepared to address them … we are waiting to see if a leader will emerge from the City of Columbus to help us attend to these issues.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonathan C. Beard, Columbus Compact Corporation, at 614-251-0926 ext. 201; Michael Moore, Olde Towne East Block Watch, at 614-208-5707; or Kathy Webb, Olde Towne East Block Watch, at 614-257-7444.October 18, 2011 3:55 pm at 3:55 pm #465752
Neighborhood groups say council ignores anti-crime plan
By Doug Caruso
The Columbus Dispatch
Tuesday October 18, 2011 5:37 AM
A coalition of Near East Side and South Side groups contends that Columbus City Council members have ignored their pleas for help to fight drugs and violence in their neighborhoods.
Leaders of the Columbus Compact, the Olde Towne East Block Watch and other groups say they have been trying to get the council to commit since fall 2010 to laws that would allow police to arrest people for loitering who are there to sell drugs, better information systems for the police, and programs to prevent young men from becoming hardened criminals.
“We’ve been trying to have this conversation as an exchange behind closed doors as partners,” said Jonathan Beard, president of the Columbus Compact. “But we’ve really been stonewalled.”
READ MORE: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2011/10/18/neighborhood-groups-say-council-ignores-anti-crime-plan.htmlOctober 19, 2011 9:32 pm at 9:32 pm #465753
Columbus Compact Corp. and Olde Towne East Block Watch Release Neighborhood Safety Strategy for Near East and Near South neighborhoods. Further information about this proposed demonstration project is available at http://www.colscompact.com/Safety.html
A specific video rebuttal of Council President’s offensive remarks quoted in the Columbus Dispatch on 10/18/11, about this longstanding initiative that has been blocked by Chair Ginther and Public Safety Committee Chair Michelle Mills, is posted at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5j2YS6u3SYOctober 20, 2011 1:50 pm at 1:50 pm #465754
Council challengers join in crime complaint
By Doug Caruso
The Columbus Dispatch
Thursday October 20, 2011 9:33 AM
Near East Side and South Side neighborhood groups that are frustrated with the City Council’s response to their crime problems gave candidates challenging four of the Democratic incumbents a free shot yesterday.
Three of the four challengers took it during a lunchtime event at the office of the Columbus Compact on E. Main Street.October 20, 2011 1:51 pm at 1:51 pm #465756October 20, 2011 2:03 pm at 2:03 pm #465755
Unfortunately, given the exotic animals tragedy yesterday and the presence of politicians, the Dispatch article focused mostly on the political issues rather than the substance of our proposed demonstration project, which I encourage all to read at: http://www.colscompact.com/Safety.html
However, we did also videotape the 3-5 minute responses we allowed the candidates in attendance to give, and we will be uploading and posting these today. I should not that both incumbent and challengers were invited to the Press Conference, although no incumbents attended. We did not specifically invite Mayoral candidates, although Earl Smith did attend, was allowed to speak, and we will upload his comments as well.
Following is the link to the comments by Daryl Hennessey, candidate for Columbus City Council:October 20, 2011 2:19 pm at 2:19 pm #465757
Following is the link to comments by Earl Smith, Candidate for Mayor of the City of Columbus, in response to our proposal for the “Columbus Safe Neighborhoods” demonstration project.October 20, 2011 3:56 pm at 3:56 pm #465758
Following is a link to comments by Matt Ferris, Candidate for Columbus City Council, at the Neighborhood Safety Press Conference:October 25, 2011 3:36 pm at 3:36 pm #465759
East Side: Enough is Enough
Neighbors living on Columbus’ troubled east side are fighting back against crime, from shootings to corner drug deals. They say they’re sick and tired of the shootings that have littered their streets of their home with bullets and blood in the last six weeks.
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