(AKRON, Ohio)— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced a bold, new, holistic initiative aimed at decreasing violent crime in Ohio by targeting Ohio's most violent offenders. The Attorney General's Safe Neighborhoods Initiative will begin in Akron and eventually spread to other crime-ridden neighborhoods within communities in our state.
"Protecting Ohio families is my top priority," said Attorney General DeWine. "We are putting resources into this program because there are too many neighborhoods in this state where families don't feel safe going to sleep at night. It's the responsibility of elected leaders and community members to work together and find solutions to stopping violent career criminals from terrorizing neighborhoods."
Attorney General DeWine announced details of the new Initiative this afternoon at The House of the Lord Church in Akron, alongside community leaders including Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, The House of the Lord Bishop Joey Johnson, Akron Police Chief James Nice, and Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh.
"Akron is the perfect place to launch this program because our police department has excellent relationships with federal, state, and county crime fighting agencies," noted Mayor Don Plusquellic. "Setting aside personalities and turf disputes, these agencies work together to collectively fight crime as well as anywhere in the country. They developed outstanding crime analytics, and jointly deploy high-tech crime fighting equipment. This program adds a new crime fighting tool that will significantly strengthen our efforts."
The Attorney General's Safe Neighborhoods Initiative is part of an overall effort Attorney General DeWine is making to combat community gun violence involving repeat offenders. On April 29th, Attorney General DeWine and State Senator Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) announced the Violent Career Criminal Act, which proposes longer prison sentences for specific repeat violent offenders convicted of a crime in which a gun was used. The legislation was drafted after a study commissioned by the Attorney General's Violent Crimes with Guns Advisory Group found that people with two or more violent felony offenses, who make up less than 1% of Ohio's adult population, are responsible for 57% of Ohio's violent felony convictions.
The same study found Summit County ranks third in the state when it comes to the number of high rate violent offenders. Cuyahoga County ranks first, Hamilton County ranks second, and Franklin County ranks fourth.
The goal of the Attorney General's Safe Neighborhoods Initiative is to target offenders with a history of gun violence, work with them to prevent future violent crime, and lead them to resources that will assist them in breaking the crime cycle. It's an effort that requires a passionate commitment from a number of community leaders, including those in churches, victim groups, law enforcement, and government.
"The launching of the Attorney General's Safe Neighborhoods Initiative is a good opportunity for all aspects of the city to come together and work for the greater good," said Bishop Joey Johnson of The House of the Lord. "I support the program goal, which is to make the community a safer place while offering violent offenders support to make good choices."
"We hope that the threat of longer prison sentences will stop these offenders from committing more crimes, but we also want to help these men and women move forward with a new, better path in life," said DeWine.
Attorney General DeWine's Office is committing resources to the Initiative, which include the following:
The Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) will assist in providing analytic data analysis and enforcement resources in firearms-related crackdowns.
The Ohio Attorney General's Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) will continue to offer free gang and gun-related regional training across Ohio.
Attorney General DeWine is putting forth $7 million dollars to fund the Attorney General's Safe Neighborhoods Initiative across Ohio, money that comes from the National Mortgage Settlement. Attorney General DeWine has used other funds from the settlement to help communities pay for demolition of blighted homes in an effort to create safer and better communities and ultimately, protect Ohio families.
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
Eve Mueller: 614-466-3840