COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Columbus city and community leaders said the Wedgewood Village Apartments is a place terrorized by crime, and this year, they are determined to change that.
They are adding new crime-fighting technology as well as building confidence with people who live there.
Just about everywhere you look at the Wedgewood, you will now see security cameras.
“Additional cameras have been placed at intersections near there, additional cameras in the apartment complex, the city attorney has been working to require the property owners over there to provide more special duty,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said.
Ginther said the city installed dozens of those surveillance cameras over the last few months. Columbus police now have access to those cameras to keep track in real time of what is going on at Wedgewood.
Ginther said the city is hoping to take their crime-fighting technology a step further.
“One of the things we are really focused on is putting in ShotSpotter,” Ginther said. “That way they are able to get on the scene faster, take those guns off the street, and hold those people accountable that are committing violent crimes. It’s been a very useful technology as a way for us to fight crime in other parts of the city. We think it is going to do the same thing in Wedgewood.”
Ginther said they already have ShotSpotter in three areas of the city: the Hilltop, Linden and the near east parts of the city.
This west Columbus apartment complex has become a mecca for crime in Columbus — shootings, drugs, and gang activity also happening alongside hundreds of families trying to live in peace.
Zerqa Abid, the founder of MY Project USA, works closely with the residents of Wedgewood.
“The majority of these crimes that happen at Wedgewood are not committed by the people who live here,” Abid said.
Abid and MY Project USA leaders have been hosting weekly events this month for Wedgewood families.
“We had Clean Up with Cops two weeks ago,” she said. “Last week, we had a very candid conversation between the residents and the police officers talking about why they don’t feel safe reporting what is going on.”
Abid said although there is still much more work to do, she’s seeing some progress and hopes these weekly events and improvements being made by the city will change the attitude of the residents towards police.
“What we are trying to achieve in these meetings is shifting the attitude of residents back toward confidence, back toward building a safe neighborhood together, back toward making sure that no criminal, nobody who is bothering them goes without paying for the consequences,” Abid said.
She said they are in the process of building a resident council with members acting as a voice for the community, sit in on meetings with city leaders, and tell them what needs to be done from the people who are actually living it. Abid said this would be the first time they ever have a true Wedgewood resident sit in on one of these official meetings. Abid said they have five people already signed up for the job.
“The major hurdle in Wedgwood’s progress is the fear, it’s the serious fear,” Abid said. “Just last meeting, we had two moms who are worried about their own children. They are concerned. Do they talk about this to the police officers, and then we had this long conversation saying that it is better for you to talk with the police officers.
“We know that more community members will come out and will join the resident council and other efforts once the fear goes down,” she added. “Right now, I give a lot of credit to these four or five people that have stepped up.”
MY Project USA is hoping to make this series a permanent weekly event.
Ginther said he is hoping to have the ShotSpotter legislation before city council in the next 30 days.