In Cincinnati school board member Melanie Bates’ first public comments since her husband, Phil, was shot and killed on their front porch, she will tell the Cincinnati City Council today she plans to ask community members to put unrelenting pressure on them to crack down on violent crime, says the Cincinnati Enquirer. Yesterday, Police Chief Tom Streicher called Cincinnati “one of the safest cities in America” and blamed overzealous media reporting for a perception otherwise.
The Enquirer says that the number of homicides has been increasing, for the most part, since before the city’s 2001 riots. In 1998, there were 28 homicides – the fewest since at least 1950. By 2000, that number had increased to 40. But in 2001, homicides jumped to 63 and never came back down: 66 in 2002, 75 in 2003, 68 in 2004 and 79 last year. The city has had 59 homicides this year, and has experienced a 9.1 percent increase through the first seven months this year. Streicher said that at least week’s violent-crime summit in Washington, D.C., when mayors and police chiefs from other metropolitan areas heard about Cincinnati’s homicide rate, they laughed. “We really don’t even have an issue,” compared to other cities, he said.