Mayor Andrew J. Ginther has announced that more than $705 million will be allocated for neighborhood safety in his proposed 2023 Operating Budget. This includes funding for three new recruit classes in both Police and Fire – adding up to 170 new police officers plus 25 lateral transfers, and 125 new firefighters to the city’s safety forces – creating an Office of Violence Prevention, and expanded staffing support for several departments and divisions working to promote public safety.
“This budget makes possible unprecedented investments in neighborhood safety,” said Mayor Ginther.
“Our comprehensive approach is working, but even a single homicide is one too many. We continue to evaluate and expand our efforts to fight violent crime while never being daunted by the scale or difficulty of the task at hand. We will not rest until Columbus is the safest big city in the country.”
Central to the city’s comprehensive crime reduction strategy is the coordination of activities and programming across numerous departments and community organizations. To further advance this wide-ranging endeavor, as well as implement a key recommendation from the Columbus Board of Health, which has been tasked with addressing gun violence as a public health crisis, the Office of Violence Prevention will be created and housed within the Mayor’s Office to streamline and strengthen safety efforts throughout Columbus.
Several neighborhood safety strategies will be funded through the operating budget for Public Safety as well as other city departments. Key initiatives include:
- Hiring additional staff for the Office of the Inspector General for the Division of Police as well as the city’s Crime Lab, Impound Lot and Public Records Unit.
- Expanding the successful Right Response Unit, which imbeds social workers and mental health professionals in 9-1-1 dispatch to connect callers with the right resources within the right amount of time – enabling officers to focus more of their time on fighting violent crime.
- Growing RREACT (Rapid Response Emergency Addiction Crisis Team), a first-of-its-kind initiative that provides follow-up services for opiate overdose patients in Franklin County.
- Supporting SPARC (Specialized Program Assessing Resource Connectivity), which cares for aging and medically fragile residents as well as those whose lives are impacted by homelessness, mental health issues and substance abuse.
- Continuing the city’s Safe Streets initiative in which uniformed bike officers address neighborhood crime and concerns while improving community-police relations.
- Strengthening Mobile Crisis Response to broaden de-escalation tactics for situations involving individuals experiencing a mental health emergency or substance abuse disorder.
- Continuing investments in young people, including through TAPS (Teens and Police Service) – a program that connects youth with police mentors – and extensive programming in the city’s Recreation and Parks Department.
Mayor Ginther will unveil his proposed 2023 General Fund budget on Thursday, November 10.
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