Thursday, August 02, 2001

Task force racking up the arrests

Crime Stoppers hot line swamped; list of Most Wanted expanded

By Jane Prendergast and Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The first week of Cincinnati's new Violent Crimes Task Force ended with more than 150 arrests and 15 others accused of felonies taken off the Most Wanted list.

        But the accomplishments did not come without some confusion:

        • Crime Stoppers was swamped with more calls than it usually gets in a month — in a week when the two specialists who run the tip hot line daily were not working their regular shifts.

Cincinnati's Most Wanted
        • The division took some criticism over its initial Most Wanted list, the 42 names Chief Tom Streicher held up as all directly or indirectly related to the continuing violence. When the list showed people wanted for things like stealing grills and a purse, Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen clarified his promise to throw the book at everyone on the list.

        He said he thought the list would include people wanted for felony crimes in which someone was hurt.

        “I meant that we would be asking for high bonds for those believed to be responsible for the shootings — and other offenders want for serious incidents,” Mr. Allen said. “I clearly did not clarify my statements and I take the blame for any misunderstandings.”

        Crime Stoppers then got involved, expanding the list to include wanted felons from districts other than District 1, which includes Over-the-Rhine and the West End. It added 55 people, most of whom are wanted for charges involving violence.

        The division has not kept a perpetual Most Wanted list, so it took time to prepare a comprehensive one, Lt. Kim Frey said.

        “These are definitely the people we really want to track down,” she said.

        The division still has problems being specific about the 70-officer unit's other work. The last arrest total was more than 150, but team leaders don't always tell the new department spokesman, Lt. Kurt Byrd, circumstances of the arrests or what charges people face. He said a new plan hashed out this week should change that.

        “They're doing good work,” he said. “We're working it out. This is something we've never done before.”

        The lack of information hinders one of the goals Chief Streicher said he hoped for from the task force — publicity to reinforce that it's serious and high-profile.

        The chief started the task force July 25 to help combat the violence persisting in the city. A shooting Tuesday night in Mount Auburn brought to at least 83 the number of people hurt and to 13 the number of people killed in shootings since the April 9-12 protests and riots.

        Homicide investigators did luck into an arrest Wednesday of a top suspect added to the Most Wanted list. They were at the impound lot examining a Lincoln automobile involved in Tuesday night's shooting when they recognized a man walking onto the lot.

        They identified him as Michael “Mike-Mike” Solomon, accused of supplying the gun police say killed ice-cream truck driver Floyd Kilpatrick in English Woods in March.

        Mr. Solomon was arrested without incident and faces indictments on charges of complicity to murder, complicity to aggravated robbery and improperly furnishing a firearm to a minor.

        His arrest brought the total of arrests off the Most Wanted list to 14. A 15th person wanted was found dead in the county morgue.


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