COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus Police and Ohio State University Police are now doing more to try to make the neighborhoods around campus safer after more violent crimes have been reported in the area when compared to past years.
Much of the plan involves having more police officers out in the off-campus neighborhoods, with police saying it began last weekend and will continue for as long as it has to.
Officers with the Columbus Division of Police and the Ohio State University Division of Police will be working together to prevent and solve crime in the university district.
In response to the spike in crime, Ohio State has already put portable lights and surveillance cameras in some of the areas just off campus.
Along with emails about classes and the start of the school year, students have also been getting more notices about crime near campus.
“It’s definitely alarming to know all that’s happening and then kind of even scarier that not all of it gets reported,” said student Chloe Davis.
According to Columbus Deputy Chief Jennifer Knight, robberies, aggravated assaults, and burglaries are up 100 percent this July and August when compared to the same time in 2019.
“We’re seeing that increase here, we’re recognizing that increase, and we sat down and talked about what resources we have available, where can we move them, and how can we deploy those resources most effectively,” Knight said. “We do this all the time. Even if we have limited resources, we have the ability to respond to crime trends.”
Knight said the division will be more than doubling its resources in the area, including more officers during their regular shifts and officers working overtime paid by Ohio State.
“The Columbus Division of Police, we change how we’re deploying our resources based on those crime trends,” she said.” They do not need to have a fund to be able to pay for that. OSU and the Columbus Division of Police have had this partnership in place for years and this is to put additional resources on the street in these areas when students come back for the year in the fall, and we use that money to supplement those resources. We’ve been doing it for years, it’s very effective. But those individuals in Linden and those individuals on the near east side can know we absolutely move our resources around to impact crime trends in their neighborhoods as well.”
Knight said the increased police presence will include bike patrol and one of Columbus’ mobile substations.
“It’s kind of scary, in all honesty, because, like, I live here with my family,” said student Jad Mahayri. “I want to go here to go to school and having that with me in the back of my mind just isn’t really a good thing.”
Davis, a third-year student who lives off campus, said she’s noticed the increase in crime and hopes the efforts from police work.
“Definitely more patrolling in the off-campus neighborhoods would be best, but hopefully something changes because people are going to stop coming here,” she said.
Ohio State University Police Chief Kimberly Spears McNatt said her officers will be doing more when it comes to off-campus crime as well.
“Not only am I just Chief of Police, but I’m also a mom,” she said. “So when we hear these calls and concerns come in from parents, I understand and I also share those same concerns. I also realize police cannot be the only solution and safety means different things to different people.”