There are reasons to be optimistic that crime in Hamilton will be relatively low in 2018.
For one thing, police and prosecutors have been working to get violent-crime perpetrators off the streets as part of the Safe Neighborhood Initiative with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, said Police Chief Craig Bucheit.
“We know that there’s a relative handful of people who are responsible for the majority of crime, particularly gun crime,” Bucheit told this media outlet. Police identified people — mostly young men — who were at risk of being a victim or perpetrator of violent crimes.
Police, working with the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office, called them in and let “them know that the path they were on, based on crimes they’d committed, or people they were associating with, was going to lead them to one of two places: a death or in prison,” he said.
They were offered a different path, and given help earning GEDs, driver’s licenses and other assistance removing barriers to more successful lives. If the offers weren’t accepted, they were told “we were going to aggressively come after folks who were engaged in activities with guns, gangs and drugs,” he said.
Here are some other reasons for optimism:
- 2017 crime was down in key areas, including murders.
- The city will have computer technology that shows police, in real time, as opposed to weeks later, where crime "hot spots are occurring.
“We’ll be able to identify those hot spots quicker, and use that information to deploy our resources, and to combat those problems as they’re occurring,” Bucheit said.
- Neighborhood empowerment, led by Hamilton's 17Strong community-building effort, is helping to tip off police to issues residents are seeing, so police are aware of the problems. City leaders have been activating various sections of the city in recent years, and that effort is gaining momentum.
“We’ve seen it time and again, the best way to address these neighborhood in the community, working hand-in-hand with the neighbors,” Bucheit said. “One thing we’ve got going for us is people who care about this community. They’re willing to get involved, they’re willing to pick up the phone, they’re willing to come to a meeting to help us identify these problem places, and work to get them shut down and addressed.”
- Hamilton schools now have five school resource officers who are in schools daily.
Bucheit says there have been “countless examples of just great, positive interactions between these officers and the people in our community. I think one of the biggest benefits that we’ll see down the road is just recruitment,” he said, particularly of minorities, which has been a challenge.
- Chronic-nuisance legislation in Hamilton has eliminated some of the city's most problematic buildings, including places where drug users and others were breaking in.
- Hamilton's new 311 phone/computer app helps people more easily, and anonymously, report crimes.