COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus City Council renewed its contract Monday with Community Crime Patrol, a citizen patrolling unit that has dually served as one hiring pipeline for Columbus police in recent years.
Citizen patrollers with the community policing organization — the letters CCP emblazoned in yellow on their backs — have been on the streets of about half a dozen Columbus neighborhoods for close to 33 years, said Councilmember and Public Safety Committee Chair Emmanuel Remy.
The Council voted for $375,000 for the program through next February at its general body meeting Monday. CCP received the same amount of funding from the city in 2022 and 2021, according to the ordinance.
More than 100 former patrollers were also later hired to a police division — at least 60 of them becoming Columbus police officers. The starting pay for a citizen patroller is $17 an hour, Remy said.
“It’s been a really good opportunity to not only keep eyes on the community, but also for future police officers,” he said.
In the last five years, patrollers have enabled Columbus police to make less than 10 arrests total, ranging from one to four per year. The program has yielded hundreds of environmental calls — from street lights that have gone out to gas leaks — and discoveries of code violations, according to CCP records.
“They are another set of eyes, rather than the citizen actually being the one to make those calls,” Remy said.
Monday night’s funding renewal also comes as the city faces an increase in violent crimes. The number of homicides in the city is pacing higher than it did in the first three months of 2022, according to a combination of Columbus police data and NBC4 analysis.
Remy said he sees the patrolling organization as one piece of that puzzle.
“We need to be doing whatever it takes to make people feel safe in the community, from one end of the city to the other,” he said. “We all need to lock hands and make a difference.”
This newly enacted funding does not broaden the program’s reach, Remy said.
“But we are also looking at, how do we supplement and increase the funding for our block watch programs?” he said. Discussions about block watch funding will come later in 2023.
CCP neighborhoods include the University District and South Clintonville; West Side neighborhoods including Franklinton and the Hilltop; South Side Columbus neighborhoods including German and Merion Village; Northland and North Linden; and the Near East Side.
Patrollers also offer safety services to some parks, recreation centers, and pools under the purview of Columbus Recreation and Parks, according to the CCP website.
In other business, the Council also voted through several housing legislation items and a $225,000 sexual abuse settlement with a former Columbus Division of Fire cadette stemming from a 2020 incident.