Mayor Ginther announces additional police officers for city’s safety strategy

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COLUMBUS (WCMH/AP) —Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther has announced additional funding for his Comprehensive Neighborhood Safety Strategy.

Ginther and Columbus City Council President Shannon G. Hardin announced an additional $2 million in funding at a news conference Wednesday morning.

“Thanks to prudent fiscal management and a strong local economy, we will be able to add more police recruits this year, allowing police to put more resources into neighborhood safety strategies, as well as more resources to solve homicides and address gang-related violence,” said Mayor Ginther. “In addition, we will be able to better support our officers with additional funding for health and safety initiatives in order to address the significant challenges we face.”

Half of the funds will be used to hire and train 30 police recruits in 2018. Ginther said the other half will help to fund non law-enforcement, community based programs.

“Really making sure that we’re spending as much on prevention and intervention as we are on enforcement,” Ginther said.

Lisa Boggs, a Block Watch coordinator in the Hilltop neighborhood was very encouraged by the news.

“In the grand scheme of things it’s a drop in the bucket – but it’s progress,” Boggs said. “We need a little bit of proactive policing because officers are responding from one run to the next.”

Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said 30 additional officers will allow the department to implement its Safe Streets initiative citywide rather than in just one neighborhood.

“That’s community engagement,” Jacobs said. “That’s looking for people to give us information and actually developing relationships where they feel comfortable giving us information.”

Jacobs says the department has not kept up with the population growth in the city but says the city has to balance its needs with available revenue. She said the increase is needed not just because of increased calls for service but also because of the nature of those calls.

“One overdose, two overdoses might take 5 or 10 officers at least for some period of time,” Jacobs said. “That just wasn’t happening 5 years ago.”

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