COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus city leaders say they are more on the same page than ever to put an end to violent crime.
The U.S. Marshals Office held a meeting with these leaders on Friday to come up with the best approach to stop crime and listen to local leaders about how federal authorities can pitch in to help.
Although NBC4 was not permitted to attend the meeting, we spoke with those in attendance who said the multi-agency meeting was instrumental in determining the next stage in their fight against violence.
U.S. Marshals Service Director Ronald Davis said he sees a great network of people willing to work together.
“People keep using the word ‘laser-focused,’ and I think that is completely right,” Davis said. “We can help by being laser-focused on addressing the small number of people who are exacting a lot of violence and making sure there is that level of accountability.”
In attendance at Friday’s meeting were representatives with the Columbus Division of Police, community advocates like We Are Linden and Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children. The U.S. Attorney, and leaders from the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also participated.
Each agency shares the same goal: eradicating violent crime in central Ohio. But community involvement is a crucial element for achieving that goal, according to Whitehall Police Chief Mike Crispen, who also acts as chief of the Franklin County Chiefs Association.
“When the police are in charge, what you have is oppression, I think I got that right,” he said. “But when the community is actually running the show you have some happiness.”
Of the perpetrators of violent crime, law enforcement agencies said one population in particular — juveniles — must be reigned in.
“One of the things we talked about is meeting them where they are; meeting them where they are in the schools, meeting them where we are in the communities and providing them with alternatives, providing them with jobs, providing them with substantive recreation,” Columbus Public Safety Director Robert Clark said.
Community leaders like Ralph Carter, the director and founder of We Are Linden, have already been helping to engage our youth. He said this year is already different than last.
“You see an increase in youth that are actually asking for help, that want to be a part of community service and that is a big change,” Carter said.
2022 crime statistics show violent crime did drop compared to the previous two years. However, since January 1 there have been 10 homicides in Columbus and two teenagers charged with murder.
“We’ve had tremendous success and we know that but we don’t stand on the laurels of what we did last year. We know that we have much work to do this year and we are actively engaged in that,” Clark said.