COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus community is reacting after city leaders announced on Thursday they are relaunching “Operation Moonlight” to combat violence and crime during the summer.
Mayor Andrew Ginther and First Assistant Chief of Police Lashanna Potts announced the continuation of the program at a news conference on Thursday. The operation first launched last year.
“We had a couple children involved with stealing a car. A twelve-year-old behind the wheel that injured several of our first responders. and several guns seized from teenagers,” said Ginther. “Parents we need you. We need folks to step up here. Young girl who was shot I believe in South Franklinton. It was 4 in the morning. What are we doing here. We need parents in this community to step up and do their part.”
Several teenagers who spoke with NBC4 Thursday said they believe the increased police presence is a good thing.
“Honestly, a lot. You know, I hate being in the house, you know. I’d rather come outside and be active that stay at home, watch tv, play games,” said Issa Hussein.
“I’ve been out here for a long time. So, I’m really familiar with the neighborhood, familiar with a lot of people,” Hussein added. “So honestly, I feel safe all the time. For me, it doesn’t really make a difference. But for others coming from other sides of the city and the town, I feel like they’ll feel safer being outside with more cops around.”
Seventeen-year-old Joshua Martin said he likes to come to Dodge Park and shoot hoops. He said he feels safe most of the time except for, “Sometimes when I’m out here by myself at nighttime, a little bit.”
Martin believes the increased police presence will have a positive effect.
“I feel good because I think more cops will, keep people safer,” he said.
Another local teen who rides his bicycle to and from work said he would love to see more police out this summer. He recalls frightening moments while riding home from work.
“Sometimes there will be like, I’ll say fireworks going off or it’ll sound like gunshots when I’m riding past. Especially at 10-something at night when I’m getting off work. I’ll be like ok, it’s time for me to get home. Let me go ahead and just floor it down Sullivant where I know I have some type of camera footage of me going by.”
When asked if he would feel safer if there were more police out, he didn’t hesitate and said, “Yea for sure.”