Monday, June 03, 2002

Police bolster street patrols

$50,000 grant covers overtime for officers

By Jane Prendergast,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati police have started using a new $50,000 grant to target street crime, mostly in Walnut Hills.

        Operation Street Crime Elimination will pay officers overtime to do extra foot and cruiser patrols and some undercover work to focus on robberies, thefts from cars, prostitution and other street crimes. Those kinds of offenses prompted a group of East Walnut Hills residents to invite the mayor, four council members and an assistant police chief to a neighborhood home to discuss safety concerns last week.

        “We're having a lot of problems with street robberies, and a lot of that has to do with drug users being able to fund their habits,” said Sgt. Tim Fritz, who oversees the program.

        “Walnut Hills right now needs a lot of attention from District 4, and we're going to do it,” he said.

        The money, which can be used over 16 months, comes from Local Law Enforcement Block Grant funding, which is administered by the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance.

        Since 1996, Congress has made block grant money available to local governments for reducing crime and improving public safety.

        This grant is the latest of several — totaling about $120,000, Capt. David Ratliff said — the district is using to pay officers overtime for special projects. The others are being used for different areas in the district. One is dedicated for extra patrols on Burnet Avenue, which residents have praised for cracking down on drug sales.

        Some of the $50,000 also will be spent in Corryville and Avondale, Sgt. Fritz said, but mostly in Walnut Hills. Officers have used about $5,000 of the money so far in the past month.

        During that time, they logged nine felony arrests and 16 misdemeanors while recovering one gun and more than 20 grams each of marijuana and cocaine.

        Assistant Chief Richard Janke mentioned the project in a neighborhood crime meeting in Avondale Thursday, citing it to residents as an example of the extra efforts police can make.

        Walnut Hills residents were surveyed before the district started using the grant about a month ago. They'll be surveyed again at the end.


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