Cincinnati City Council proposes using the COVID incentive to fund the new police recruitment class

CINCINNATI – Some nights the Rev. Peterson Mingo of Christ Temple Full Gospel Baptist Church in Evanston is awakened by a noise that haunts him. It’s a sound he heard while escorting Cincinnati police to the scene of a murder.

“There were times when I wake up in the middle of the night and I can still hear that scream,” he said, referring to the scream a mother makes when she discovers her child has been killed.

“I know there are other mothers. There are,” said Mingo.

Mingo’s own brother was murdered decades ago. For the past few years, the pastor has worked to comfort survivors of people killed in acts of violence.

Such acts in Cincinnati hit near record levels during the coronavirus pandemic. Cincinnati police investigated more than 90 murders in 2020, making it one of the city’s deadliest years.

Cincinnati city councilor Steve Goodin believes the recent COVID-19 relief bill could provide a solution to the rising levels of violence.

At a press conference on Friday in front of Grant Park in Over-the-Rhine, where at least 10 murders have been committed since 2019, Goodin presented a motion to immediately provide part of the $ 290 million in pandemic aid who were provided to Cincinnati by the American Rescue Plan Act to fund a new class of police recruits to eventually get more officers to the streets.

“There are still some very, very bad, harsh and violent things on our streets and we need this increased police presence, both preventively and investigatively,” Goodin said.

Goodin’s plan would also put more money into training the department’s mental health team and allocate more resources to Mingo’s work. In addition to accompanying officers in murder cases, he also directs the youth and sports program Rites of Passage.

“I think we have to do a much better job of training these officials to interact with these existing programs,” said Goodin.

Hope Dudley works with U Can Speak for Me, a nonprofit, which is committed to investigating unsolved homicide cases. The murder of her son Chaz remains unsolved.

“We need more technology and improved materials to further solve these cases. I would like more funding for the homicide division,” she told WCPO.

Goodin’s motion comes amid ongoing calls for City Hall to cut funds on the police department following the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last May. As WCPO previously reported, the CPD and other local law enforcement agencies are already deploying staff and resources to employing social workers, some of whom – like Mingo – respond to calls with sworn officers.

Goodin’s motion, which would require a subsequent regulation to become legally binding, did not specify a specific amount to be earmarked for a new class of CPD recruits this year.

Goodin’s colleague, Councilor Jan-Michele Kearney, has also filed a motion suggesting how part of the incoming stimulus money should be spent. Her proposal is to invest $ 50 million as a one-time deposit into the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Kearney’s motion is separate from a similar proposal tabled before voters in May that would change the city’s charter to require the city council to allocate $ 50 million annually to the residential property trust fund.

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