COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — In the coming weekends, people can expect to see a heavier police presence on weekends in the Short North as part of the Short North Alliance’s efforts to stop violence in the arts district.
The group just released statistics from its Crime Interdiction Program in 2022, a collaborative effort between the Short North Alliance and Columbus Police.
Between the restaurants and the nightlife, the Short North is some people’s playground, but for others like Jamie Sewell, the Short North is her home.
“My house is over on Third Avenue, and on Friday and particularly Saturday nights are highly disruptive,” Sewell said.
Sewell and other residents said that in recent months, they have not felt unsafe in the area.
“I haven’t really seen any violence, but I probably don’t also go out a ton on the weekends,” Sewell said.
Betsy Pandora, the executive director of the Short North Alliance, said that’s why the organization is keeping the program in effect — for the safety of residents and visitors.
“They responded to over 700 incidents in 2022 and worked over 3,000 hours and, really, we felt did an incredible job at being able to help serve as a prevention tool,” Pandora said of Columbus police.
There are currently about two dozen police officers on the team, which works late night shifts Thursday through Sunday.
Data from 2022 shows 17 percent of police interactions were violent, compared to 22 percent in 2021.
Last year, police dealt with 51 fights/altercations, 12 confirmed shots fired and seven thefts. Police also made 47 arrests and confiscated 24 firearms, most of which were obtained illegally.
“On the whole, it is a very safe community and part of why it is a safe community is because we have worked so hard, in collaboration with the city of Columbus and many others, to imagine programs like this,” Pandora said.
The Short North Alliance is also planning to expand the Short North Ambassador Program, which includes people trained in de-escalation. They have put in an estimated 2,143 hours on safety and 9,764 hours on cleaning.
“So, if you need help or assistance in the neighborhood, you can call their hotline during the hours that they work and you can even get an escort to your vehicle,” Pandora said. “If you are ending your shift, it’s a great resource for employees and it’s one that’s been very valuable for us.”
The Short North Alliance is also expanding its partnership with Southeastern Healthcare Program, which has connected more than 125 people with mental health, housing, medical and social services.
The Columbus Police lieutenant in charge of the team said officers have also established great relationships with business owners, helping response times and solving crimes.