Cincinnati is staring at summer with a hard eye on reducing gun violence involving youths.It is not even May and the city is already on pace for another record year of homicides.The last two years set dubious records for killings and 2022 is looking similar at the moment.So, a Summer Safety Plan went in motion today with formal approval, as anticipated, of money for police overtime.That is one leg of the stool.The others are baked into the police budget. More community involvement and more programs for youth.All of that and more is needed, according to Pastor Jackie Jackson, who has lost eight family members to gun violence in the past decade.So, as he reflected today on recent shooting scenes, many of which involve minors, he expressed what many city leaders worry about, too.”I’m getting nervous about the summer as we’re getting closer,” he told WLWT.Pastor Jackson knows the Wallet Hub data which shows Cincinnati per capita joining New Orleans and Baltimore at the top for most murders so far this year.As someone who lost three family members to gun violence in one month alone, he understands the residual trauma of such pain.”These babies are seeing it,” he said. “And these babies eventually, they grow up. And now they got post traumatic stress disorder. They’ve grown up seeing violence that’s almost a way of life just going to, going to the park, walking to school.”This afternoon city lawmakers unanimously approved $250,000 for police overtime.”This is only one part of our approach to public safety,” noted Vice Mayor Jan Michele Kearney. “It’s a critical piece.”Community involvement is also part of it.So is programming to keep young people active in positive ways over the months ahead.According to the city administration, the plan includes CITI Camp, the Cincinnati Police Department Summer Cadet Program where cadets are paid as part-time employees, Camp Joy where officers and kids share a week together to promote positive interaction.Volunteers with Citizens on Patrol will be active as well, and the God Squad is reforming.But here’s an example of some missing pieces.Guiding Light Mentoring in Northside serves up to 150 youths each year, mentoring a couple dozen of them.The director would like to expand, but there’s a waitlist.”We had an individual call yesterday, she wanted her son whose eighteen to be in a program,” Latisha Owens said. “But we just don’t have the mentors right now — especially male mentors.”WLWT was told that turning kids away for lack of space feeds the problem, that the overwhelming majority who need mentoring are saddled with low self-esteem to start with.Jackson urged the community to think about the underlying causes of violence and support pouring more of everything into mental health.”We have so many children, children who don’t feel like they have a tomorrow,” he said with lament. “So, I love what the city is doing. The money’s there. I know the administration is putting out money to deal with the violence. I do want to see more things dealing with mental health and more things dealing directly in the community. But I want to make it clear we need the police officers cause that’s who we’re gonna call, that’s who I’m gonna call if there’s an issue.”

Cincinnati is staring at summer with a hard eye on reducing gun violence involving youths.

It is not even May and the city is already on pace for another record year of homicides.

The last two years set dubious records for killings and 2022 is looking similar at the moment.

So, a Summer Safety Plan went in motion today with formal approval, as anticipated, of money for police overtime.

That is one leg of the stool.

The others are baked into the police budget. More community involvement and more programs for youth.

All of that and more is needed, according to Pastor Jackie Jackson, who has lost eight family members to gun violence in the past decade.

So, as he reflected today on recent shooting scenes, many of which involve minors, he expressed what many city leaders worry about, too.

“I’m getting nervous about the summer as we’re getting closer,” he told WLWT.

Pastor Jackson knows the Wallet Hub data which shows Cincinnati per capita joining New Orleans and Baltimore at the top for most murders so far this year.

As someone who lost three family members to gun violence in one month alone, he understands the residual trauma of such pain.

“These babies are seeing it,” he said. “And these babies eventually, they grow up. And now they got post traumatic stress disorder. They’ve grown up seeing violence that’s almost a way of life just going to, going to the park, walking to school.”

This afternoon city lawmakers unanimously approved $250,000 for police overtime.

“This is only one part of our approach to public safety,” noted Vice Mayor Jan Michele Kearney. “It’s a critical piece.”

Community involvement is also part of it.

So is programming to keep young people active in positive ways over the months ahead.

According to the city administration, the plan includes CITI Camp, the Cincinnati Police Department Summer Cadet Program where cadets are paid as part-time employees, Camp Joy where officers and kids share a week together to promote positive interaction.

Volunteers with Citizens on Patrol will be active as well, and the God Squad is reforming.

But here’s an example of some missing pieces.

Guiding Light Mentoring in Northside serves up to 150 youths each year, mentoring a couple dozen of them.

The director would like to expand, but there’s a waitlist.

“We had an individual call yesterday, she wanted her son whose eighteen to be in a program,” Latisha Owens said. “But we just don’t have the mentors right now — especially male mentors.”

WLWT was told that turning kids away for lack of space feeds the problem, that the overwhelming majority who need mentoring are saddled with low self-esteem to start with.

Jackson urged the community to think about the underlying causes of violence and support pouring more of everything into mental health.

“We have so many children, children who don’t feel like they have a tomorrow,” he said with lament. “So, I love what the city is doing. The money’s there. I know the administration is putting out money to deal with the violence. I do want to see more things dealing with mental health and more things dealing directly in the community. But I want to make it clear we need the police officers cause that’s who we’re gonna call, that’s who I’m gonna call if there’s an issue.”



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