COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus community members, local leaders and federal leaders are trying to work together to reduce the amount of violent crime in the city.
During a press conference Thursday, Mayor Andrew Ginther announced three additional plans to address violent crime. Steve Dettelbach, Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was at that press conference. Afterward, he met with some community members who’ve lost loved ones to violence.
“It was an honor to be there to have our voices heard, but it also is alarming because it lets you know how serious we’ve gotten in this small city of Columbus,” said Malissa Thomas St. Clair, Founder of the non-profit Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children.
Ginther announced three actions the city will take following its meeting with ATF:
- Dedicate at least $5 million from the capital budget will go toward tools and technology related to the use of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. ATF runs the interstate network to compare ballistic evidence in firearm-related crimes.
- Spend $250,000 to hire two assistant U.S. attorneys who will focus on prosecuting violent crime
- Create a Regional Crime Gun Intelligence Center, which will include the Columbus police, other area police departments and the ATF.
Thomas St. Clair and other community advocates she works with were at the table Thursday evening.
“Having two mothers who fight for our mission so their children do not become a statistic and having two mothers there that understand this pain in a deep way was allowing them to have the full circle moment of how we’re fighting for Columbus,” she said. “I do think they listened, and I think they listened with a true open heart.”
Included in efforts to decrease violent crime is work to stop youth violence. Jene Patrick, brand ambassador for Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children, was also at Thursday’s meeting. She said part of the solution to curbing youth violence involves not just helping the kids, but also their parents.
“What we’re dealing with is way more than just what’s going on right now,” Patrick said. “And we cannot save these kids unless we help the parents as well.”
Patrick and Thomas St. Clair both hope the conversations and plans which took place Thursday lead to action.
“We can talk about it all day long, but what are we really doing and making sure we hold them accountable for what they say they’re going to do,” Patrick said.