Police: Uniting with community important to stopping violence

A select culture that thinks providing police with information that can solve crimes is “snitching” or a violation of “street code” only allows criminals to escape punishment, police said.

But the cooperation of witnesses in two recent shootings in Hamilton is an example of how the community and police can work together to turn the tables on those who commit crimes, police said.

Kalif Goens, 21, was buried Aug. 3, after being killed in a shooting last month at Doubles Bar. Orlando Gilbert and Todd Berus, 25, were both killed in a drive-by shooting the day of Goens' funeral. They were buried Friday afternoon — the same day, police announced the arrest of eight people in connection with the two incidents.

Those arrests were not only the result of police investigation, but also cooperation from the community in providing tips to police, according to Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit.

“It was the challenge we gave to the community,” he said. “It said, if we want justice, if we want a safe and secure community, we need people to step up and say something if you saw something.”

Finding ways to stand up against violence as well as helping youth become more productive residents was the subject of a recent meeting between several area pastors and Bucheit.

“There were a lot of people at the meeting and we discussed ways to help these kids,” said Archie Johnson, a former city councilman and one of the pastors in attendance at the meeting. “Some need role models and some just need something better to do than just hanging out in the streets getting in trouble.”

Bucheit said plans are underway to keep a program called the Safe Neighborhoods Initiative, which was started in 2014. The goal of the program is to target offenders with a history of gun violence and work with those offenders to prevent future violent crime.

Hamilton resident Rachel McCoy felt the impact of street violence when her friend, CJ Sandle, was shot and killed in January in the 400 block of Millville Avenue. She said she is glad to see law enforcement reaching out to residents in order to curb the violence.

“Going to work as an officer in the city of Hamilton for the past few months has to be very trying with all the violence going on,” she said.

McCoy added that she has plans to organize a citywide peace rally later this month and will turn in a request for funding to the 17 Strong Neighborhood Committee in order to help finance it.

Pastor Mike Pearl of Hamilton said the recent shooting deaths are not a reflection of Hamilton and are happening in cities across the country.

“There’s a lack of value on human life,” he said. “We have to do what we can to show people, everybody, that they have tremendous value and so does our neighbor. We have to embrace each other instead of erasing each other.”

Brad Bushman is a professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University. He studies human aggression and violence.

Bushman and a group of 12 other experts were part of a group commissioned by the National Science Foundation that studied youth violence after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn. He said cities like Hamilton are always going to be looking at many different factors that lead to youth violence.

“Because youth violence has so many causes, preventing it also requires a multifaceted approach,” Bushman noted in his report. “Many of the solutions are well-known, if not often implemented, such as strengthening families, minimizing violent media effects, reducing youth access to guns and improving school climates.”

He added that, “the causes of gun violence in youth are complex. There are usually multiple factors acting together no matter what kind of shooting is involved.”

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