Cincinnati’s vice mayor called yesterday for a police gang unit to fight retaliatory and turf-related shootings, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The police chief insisted that he doesn’t need or want such a centralized approach. Vice Mayor Alicia Reece started a petition drive to try forcing the city to establish the unit as part of a homicide task force. She also demanded a vote by council next week on the idea. “We need to do something different as it relates to the shootings and homicides”‘ she said in the parking lot across from a high school near where two students were hurt last month in a shooting police described as retaliatory. “We’re here today because we’re fed up with the territorial wars that are existing in our neighborhoods.”
Chief Tom Streicher wants to fight crime his way with Violent Crime Squads in each district watching the street-level crime for gang connections, with the department’s intelligence unit being the clearinghouse for information on gang members. Decentralizing the gang work is better, he said, because officers are more flexible to respond to problems specific to their neighborhoods. City Manager Valerie Lemmie said the city has only one organized gang – the Tot Lot Posse, 18 of whose members were prosecuted last year by federal authorities. The claim that only one gang operates here, Reece said, showed that many city officials are out of touch.