COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A string of violent, late-night crimes in the Short North has police and community members implementing new safety measures due to a 25 percent increase in violent crime being reported to Columbus Police this year, compared to the last.
“I don’t like to travel down here at night by myself because I do get the notifications every time a violent crime happens on this strip,” said Laila-Rose Hudson, a Columbus resident.
As a frequent visitor of the Short North, Hudson said that lately, she’s become more concerned for her own safety.
Representatives of the area are hearing those concerns.
“It is a vibrant area where we have lots of businesses, lots of visitors, and it’s important to us to make sure that people stay safe,” said Betsy Pandora, executive director of the Short North Alliance, a non-profit that works to support the properties and business owners along High Street.
Together, along with the Columbus Police, they’ve started the Short North Crime Interdiction Pilot program, which employs a unit of police officers to patrol the streets and prevent violent crime, as well as other safety issues.
“They will increase their presence at various times, and at key times when we’ve experienced crime,” Pandora said, adding that was primarily during the evening and late-night hours.
The program starts this weekend and will continue over several consecutive weeks.
Columbus Police said the program focusing on the Short North will not reduce its workforce in other areas.
“We’re not taking away from any particular area, but we are adding existing resources that we have, in addition to the Short North Alliance providing officers on the overtime,” said Sgt. James Fuqua, public information officer with the Columbus Division of Police.
Residents around the area are glad to hear more police will be in their neighborhood.
“They’re stepping up, they’re putting the extra police force in place, especially during the hours when the trouble seems to be happening, which is after midnight,” said Rob Leery, a Columbus resident.
The Short North Alliance and the City of Columbus are also forming a Violence and Injury Prevention Work Group which will serve the people in the community. The Work Group will be seated over the next few weeks and will meet to identify additional solutions to support violence and injury prevention in the Short North Arts District and surrounding residential communities.