With a rising homicide rate, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs says violent crime in the city will get more attention this summer as officers ramp up their efforts in vulnerable neighborhoods.
Columbus’ homicide rate has soared this year, with 48 people killed so far compared to 29 at this time in 2016.
Speaking on All Sides With Ann Fisher on Wednesday, Jacobs says the drug epidemic is partly to blame for the deaths, and more than three quarters of this year’s homicides have involved guns.
Jacobs agrees with researchers that violence should be considered a public health problem, but said she had no information to provide in response to calls for Columbus Police to hire an epidemiologist to study the city.
According to Jacobs, the department will dedicate more officers this summer to concentrate on gang activity and violent crime.
“Our community safety initiative is in particular paying attention to some of the people we’ve had the most problems with and some of the locations we’ve had the most problems with," Jacobs says. "So we’re going to focus our effort on violent crime this summer.”
The community safety initiative is an extension of Columbus Police's controversial summer program that targets higher-crime areas with increased patrols and plain-clothed officers. Critics have accused the program of racial profiling and hurting community-police relations.
"We have tried to continue to tweak it to address ongoing problems," Jacobs says.