Cincinnati, Ohio

Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation

Cincinnati, Ohio

BCJI Funding Year: FY2018

BCJI Awardee: City of Cincinnati

Research Partner: University of Cincinnati

Focus Area: East Price Hill - Population 11,542

Challenges: Violent Crime, Gun Violence, Opioids, Shooting Victims, and Witnesses

Neighborhood Characteristics

A neighborhood of 14,224 residents (46 percent Caucasian, 34 percent African American, and 11 percent other), East Price Hill (EPH) has historically experienced violent crime rates approximately three times that of the City of Cincinnati's average crime rate. Contributing factors include high levels of poverty, unemployment, health barriers, and low levels of educational attainment. In 2018, 44 percent of EPH families were living below the poverty level. EPH resident demographics are 46 percent Caucasian, 34 percent African American, and 11 percent other. 

Violent crime and other aspects of community needs are of grave concern. However, residents do not define themselves by these challenges. EPH residents are proud of their local business assets, which include catering, gourmet coffee, and ethnic restaurants. Community gardens and parks also dot the landscape. Numerous service agencies work to support residents' needs, including Santa Maria Community Services, BLOC Ministries, Talbert House, and Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio. The neighborhood Council, East Price Hill Improvement Association (EPHIA), has also been investing time and energy into the civic advancement of the neighborhood. Price Hill Will, another partner, serves as the community development corporation with a mission of creating systemic neighborhood change through physical, economic, and social development. A significant neighborhood development plan called "Warsaw Alive" has been adopted by EPHIA and City Council and it is being implemented for one of the neighborhood's two primary corridors on Warsaw Avenue.

Planning Phase

During the Planning Phase, the core team engaged the community through public forums and utilized billboards, posters, and door hangers to communicate BCJI efforts and request additional participation in neighborhood programming and services. The team also participated in community cleanup events and a neighborhood enhancement kickoff event, which helped build collaborative relationships with community organizations and residents.

Community-based crime reduction efforts are intended to build trust and partner capacity and to sustain long-term collaboration. To achieve these ends, BCJI practitioners considered a continuum of project solutions, including traditional enforcement efforts, place management intervention, behavioral management strategies, victim and witness services, and interventions specifically related to the use of physical space. Solutions will be selected that support the following project goals:

The primary goals of the Cincinnati BCJI project are: 

  1. Reducing harms of gunshot victimization.
  2. Reducing the number of opioid-related overdoses in the project area.

The secondary goals of the Cincinnati BCJI project are: 

  1. Reducing all gun-related criminal activity.
  2. Reducing open-air drug markets.
  3. Reducing drug-related vehicle crashes.

The tertiary goals of the Cincinnati BCJI project are:

  1. Increase in general public safety.
  2. Positive community and economic development.
  3. Positive neighborhood trajectory.

Cincinnati PIVOT Program

Using the Place-Based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories (PIVOT) model of policing, the Cincinnati BCJI team worked diligently during the planning phase to better understand how and why shootings, violent crimes, opioid addiction, and other associated problems disproportionately concentrate in EPH. The BCJI PIVOT team includes a unit commander, three permanent and two temporary sworn investigators supervised by a police sergeant, and a Crime Analysis and Problem-Solving Squad that includes two civilian crime analysts managed by a senior crime analyst. This team includes key representatives from many City of Cincinnati departments, local non-profits, and community organizations working toward similar goals. The PIVOT team also collaborated with several key stakeholders in the EPH community who provided detailed information and guidance regarding problems within the neighborhood. These include the executive board of the neighborhood council, EPHIA, Price Hill Will, and several neighborhood-based social service organizations, including Santa Maria Community Centers.

The Cincinnati BCJI project's overarching strategy is designed to capitalize on three evidence-based components. First, focusing police resources on locations with concentrated crime rates has repeatedly been demonstrated as effective (see Sherman, 1989; Sherman & Weisburd, 1995; Weisburd & Green, 1995; Weisburd & Eck, 2004; Braga, Papacristos, and Hureau, 2014). Second, offender-oriented focus deterrence strategies have demonstrated value (Braga & Weisburd, 2012; Engel et al., 2013). Third, place-based strategies have been productive and efficient in reducing crime and violence overall (Weisburd et al., 2010; Weisburd et al., 2016). While the PIVOT project has capitalized on these principles to date, the program is also innovative in the manner in which place-networks are identified, how responses are coordinated to disrupt place networks, and the extent to which analysis is applied both strategically and tactically to inform decision making.

Given that this strategy is particularly innovative, efforts are underway to share program insights, interventions, and outcomes. PIVOT team leaders regularly present project information to executive leadership and the leaders of local government, including the city manger, the mayor, and members of City Council. Project information was presented to an array of local and community groups, as well as the police, analysts, and other colleagues throughout the public safety community. The Cincinnati Police Department plans to continue each of these efforts to share lessons learned. The website www.CPDPIVOT.come was specifically created to make detailed project and analytic process information available to all interested parties.

Implementation Strategies

Components of the Cincinnati CBCR team’s implementation strategy fall into three fundamental categories: offender, place, and victim-oriented responses.

Offender-oriented response: The Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) will continue focus on actively violent offenders, as well as identify and level criminal prosecution on this small number of offenders, as applicable. The CPD will also continue to engage in the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV), which applies focused deterrence efforts to reduce gunshot victimization.

Place-oriented response: The BCJI project team will address crime hot spots by implementing the PIVOT strategy in EPH. The goals of PIVOT include identifying networks of places that provide an infrastructure for facilitating violent criminal activity in areas where this behavior is persistently high. The team has begun developing the intelligence necessary to identify operative place networks in East Price Hill. However, this process will continue throughout the duration of the project as new information yields a clearer understanding of place network components. Following the identification of these sites, the BCJI project team will determine the proper steps to disrupt the criminogenic use of these locations. Responses may range from working with property owners to ensure proper physical and behavioral management, to demolition of the property. In addition to these strategies, the CPD will engage in a hot spot and hot segment patrol strategy. The CPD will use BCJI funds to add additional officer patrol hours to the project area, directing their special attention to the addresses and segments where crime is concentrated. The CPD also plans on adding automatic license plate reader (ALPR) technology to the project neighborhood. These tools will help improve officers’ ability to understand the activities of offenders and to learn how they interact with places.

Victim-Oriented Response: The CPD includes programming developed by the department's Homicide and Victim Advocate Unit, called Cincinnati Citizens Respect Our Witnesses (CCROW). Key CCROW strategies include:

  1. Collaborating with residents, businesses, and stakeholders to improve victim and witness support and cooperation.
  2. Providing in-depth training and technical assistance to communities wishing to implement trauma-informed, victim- and witness-centered strategies to combat intimidation of victims and witnesses.
  3. Lowering homicide rates and increasing case solution.

The EPH BCJI project provides an opportunity for CCROW to expand services beyond homicide victimization in a more systematic way within EPH. If CCROW practitioners can use their victim and witness services to better support those impacted by non-fatal firearm victimizations, they may disrupt cycles of retribution and strengthen collective efficacy in EPH.

Other Key Partners

Local community councils, Community Partnering Center, City Planning, Building and Inspections, Community and Economic Development, Health Department, Fire Department, Law Department, Environment and Sustainability, Cincinnati Recreation Commission, Public Services, Transportation and Engineering, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, Port Authority, Community Redevelopment Corporations, Neighborhood Enhancement Program, Santa Maria Community Centers, Bloc Ministries, Talbert House, Catholic Charities USA, East Price Hill Improvement Association, Cincinnati Police Department, Price Hill Will, Cincinnati Citizens Respect Our Witnesses

This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 2018-BJ-BX-K035 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s) or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues

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