COLUMBUS, Ohio — Violence in central Ohio has been on the rise lately, from park shootings to robberies and to a fatal shooting on the lawn of the Ohio Statehouse.
Columbus officers are trying to keep neighborhoods safe through the Safe Streets Initiative during the late spring and summer months.
“It's quite refreshing,” said officer Myisha Fulton.
Fulton has only been on the department for three years but took the opportunity to join the program so she can talk to community members more often.
“It makes you feel better, with everything that has been going on nowadays. Having the community beep at you, wave at you, children coming and waving at you with open arms, and just making people feel safe,” Fulton said.
Safe Streets Initiative has been going on for years, but there are fewer officers on the team this year.
“It's a challenge. I will admit that staffing levels continue to be a challenge, but I have a lot of faith in our officers, their ability to make that engagement opportunity with the community,” said Columbus Police Deputy Chief Jennifer Knight.
Knight said this year the teams are able to mold the program into what the community wants.
“Each zone was able to tailor the program to meet their needs. They decided exactly what they felt the community was asking for this time of year. Each program, every zone is a little different,” Knight said.
Even with just a week under its belt for the year, it has already been successful, with an arrest and recovery of two kilos of narcotics from one car, and 11 guns taken off the streets.
"Seeing these guys engaging with the community, but more importantly, taking the guns off the streets. Making the streets safe. Doing the enforcement and putting these guys to work which is what they really enjoy doing,” said Lieutenant Dan Edelsberg.
For the officers, it offers them new challenges as well.
“I have not ridden a bike in about 20 years, so it was a push. Surprising enough, it's like they say riding a bike, it comes back to you,” Fulton said with a laugh.