COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus city leaders are celebrating the city’s 2022 crime rates being down in most areas compared to the last few years.
Homicide rates are down by almost 33% and felonious assaults are down by 16%. But one area of crime that went up drastically across Columbus: car thefts.
City leaders called the overall decrease a success, but said the focus in 2023 will be on working with children and teenagers who break the law.
Michael Cleag and Rio Karr work at 12 on Twelfth Premier Barbershop, right across from Ohio State University’s campus. They said at their location, they don’t see a lot of crime.
“Around this area in the location we are in, we mainly hear about car break ins, little vandalisms, maybe a student robbery,” Karr said.
But the duo said hearing a shooting happened Wednesday night on High Street right across from their workplace is frightening.
“Crime can go anywhere,” Cleag said.
Columbus hit a record high for homicides in 2021 with 207 homicides. In 2022, there were 139 homicides – but city leaders said any number of homicide is too many, and they hope this number will continue to go down in 2023.
Columbus had its first homicide of the year Monday on Cleveland Avenue.
Columbus police removed more than 3,000 firearms from the streets in 2022. Police said 90% of last year’s homicides involved a firearm.
Police Chief Elaine Bryant said although Columbus’ homicide rate did drop more than any other top 20 city in the country, this is not the end.
“While we have made progress we will not rest on that,” Bryant said. “We will continue to work tirelessly to improve public safety, to increase community engagement and to address quality of life issues for our community and our residents.”
In addition to homicides, other crimes decreased in 2022, including felonious assaults, robberies, burglaries and rapes.
But it isn’t a success in every area.
“In 2022, there were 7,785 motor vehicle thefts — that’s up almost 22%,” said Bryant.
Bryant said the majority of those thefts were done by juveniles – 71 kids in particular – dubbed the “Kia Boys.” She said these same kids are often involved in other violent crimes.
Of the city’s homicides, children were suspects 12% of the time, while 10% of homicide victims were also under 18. City leaders said a major goal for 2023 is to drop youth crime rate numbers.
“We really have to have this comprehensive approach,” Mayor Andrew Ginther said. “It takes prevention, intervention and enforcement, and that’s why we are seeing some of the success we are seeing, but we are going to have to continue to invest in our young people.”
Bryant said in 2023, Columbus police wants to increase its presence in schools to intervene earlier in youth’s lives. Police will also continue its TAPS program as well as the PAL youth sports leagues.
Ginther said the city plans to keep investing millions of dollars into youth engagement programs.