DECKER

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - Tdecker@dis­patch.com @Theodor­e_Decker

later, an­other man was shot and killed, on the East Side.

Five homi­cides in four days. As of Mon­day, 28 homi­cides were on the books in Colum­bus for 2018.

Yet be­tween April 11-16, 2017, no ad­di­tional homi­cides oc­curred. The count re­mained at 36.

This month in Mas­sachusetts, the Har­vard T.H. Chan School of Pub­lic Health held a panel dis­cus­sion on gun vi­o­lence. The im­pe­tus was the re­newed de­bate af­ter mass shoot­ings like the one that oc­curred Feb. 14 at a high school in Park­land, Florida.

Dur­ing that dis­cus­sion, one of the pan­elists raised a point of­ten for­got­ten, dis­missed or ig­nored.

“We talk about mass shoot­ings, and that takes up so much of our band­width, but this prob­lem is re­ally driven in large part by what I would call ‘day-to-day’ shoot­ings that are hap­pen­ing on our city streets,” said Mike McLively, se­nior staff at­tor­ney and Ur­ban Gun Vi­o­lence Ini­tia­tive di­rec­tor at the Gif­fords Law Cen­ter to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence.

In a dis­cus­sion hosted last week by Ohio State Uni­ver­sity’s Col­lege of Pub­lic Health and John Glenn Col­lege of Pub­lic Af­fairs, a gun vi­o­lence re­searcher from Bal­ti­more, Mary­land, cov­ered some of the same ground.

Af­ter­ward, I asked Cas­san­dra Cri­fasi, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Cen­ter for Gun Pol­icy and Re­search at the Johns Hop­kins Bloomberg School of Pub­lic Health, how Bal­ti­more’s Safe Streets pro­gram was go­ing.

Safe Streets is a databased vi­o­lence in­ter­ven­tion pro­gram that seeks to dis­rupt the cy­cle of vi­o­lence just as epi­demi­ol­o­gists seek to halt the spread of a dis­ease. Out­reach work­ers keep tabs on, and in­ter­vene in, the lives of those most prone to com­mit vi­o­lence. Re­search has shown it can work if prop­erly ad­min­is­tered.

I had writ­ten about Safe Streets in 2011 and asked Cri­fasi if she thought the pro­gram still showed prom­ise. In the years since I vis­ited a Safe Streets lo­ca­tion in East Bal­ti­more, the pro­gram has weath­ered con­tro­versy and money prob­lems. But re­cently that city’s mayor pledged to ex­pand the pro­gram to more neigh­bor­hoods and pro­vide a steady bud­get. Such a com­mit­ment from City Hall seemed like good news, Cri­fasi said.

Last fall, as the killing in Colum­bus showed no signs of slow­ing, Mayor An­drew J. Ginther an­nounced plans to in­crease po­lice bike and foot pa­trols, set aside money for var­i­ous safety-re­lated and youth job pro­grams, and pro­vide cri­sis-in­ter­ven­tion train­ing for po­lice of­fi­cers. The Colum­bus Depart­ment of Health hired a part-time epi­demi­ol­o­gist to col­lect data on cen­tral Ohio gun­shot vic­tims and to work in tan­dem with a new Vi­o­lent Crime Re­view Group, which is tasked with eval­u­at­ing each Colum­bus homi­cide to see how it might have been pre­vented.

The dan­ger is that as the killings ebb, so does the out­rage. When that hap­pens, ideas like these can die on the vine.

Ginther said last fall, “We can’t do this by our­selves. No one per­son can do it all.”

A fair state­ment. Fair, too, was some­thing Cri­fasi said, about what it takes to make a pro­gram like Safe Streets suc­ceed.

“You have to have a cham­pion.”

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