Saturday, May 22, 1999

City police allocating federal grant


Targets include violence, drugs, theft from cars

BY DAN KLEPAL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A $1.6 million federal grant to the Cincinnati Police Division will pay for programs to combat youth violence, thefts from autos, crack-cocaine trafficking and accidental handgun shootings in the coming year.

        The Local Law Enforcement Block Grant, which will be available within the next month, has been a staple of the police budget since 1996.

        The money has to be split with Hamilton County because the Sheriff's Office runs the jail, protects the courts and provides other services that benefit the city.

        “This grant allows the city to implement programs or services it would not otherwise be able to afford,” said Cincinnati Police Lt. Col. Richard Biehl. “That's the case with most grants.”

        City Safety Director Kent A. Ryan said the programs are not a direct response to any recent national events, such as the high school shootings in Colorado and Georgia.

        But they are timely, he said.

        “Youth violence has been a common theme throughout the country, so any responsible police agency will develop programs to deal with it,” Mr. Ryan said.

        Among the programs targeted for funding:

        • Youth violence, $100,000: Police say juvenile crime has risen over the past few years while adult crime has declined. This program tracks juveniles involved in gangs and violent crime. The money pays for a computer operator and a database to monitor those offenders.

        • Theft from autos task force, $192,000: This has been a particular problem in the downtown business district and adjoining neighborhoods, police say. More than 1,800 thefts with more than $500,000 in losses and property damage were reported in those areas during 1997.

        The grant will pay for more patrols, surveillance of offenders to track the path of property stolen and sting operations to help recover property. Community education also is planned.

        • Fighting Against Crack Trafficking (FACT), $200,000: A neighborhood-police partnership designed to suppress drug dealing. The money pays for workers, office space, transportation and supplies.

        • Citywide Handgun Lock Initiative, $60,000: Goals of this program are to educate the public about handgun safety, promoting effective child safety locks and working to prevent accidental shootings. It will train gun owners how to use the gun locks and encourage them to use anti-theft wall mounts.

        • Police courtesy training, $20,000: This program aims to improve communication with citizens for effective community policing. Discourtesy, police say, can undo anything community policing hopes to achieve. Recruits, field training officers and supervisors would be included in this training.

        A similar breakdown wasn't available Friday for how the county will spend its share of the grant.

        Other programs funded by the grant are citizens on patrol ($50,000) and the Avondale public safety task force ($20,000). Thermal imaging units ($26,000) and film processing equipment ($95,000) also will be purchased.

       



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