Reports of violent crime dropped in '22
Columbus' drastic rise in violent crime recorded in 2021 was followed by a sharp decline last year.
Why it matters: City leaders said last week that Columbus is bucking nationwide crime trends thanks to a slate of public safety initiatives.
- But police department statistics compiled by the mayor's office also suggest the drop could be a natural regression from a record-breaking wave of crime coinciding with the pandemic.
State of play: Reports of homicides, felonious assaults, rapes, burglaries and robberies all decreased between 2021 and 2022.
- Homicides lowered by 33% to 139 from a record 207 two years ago.
- Mayor Andrew Ginther credited this drop to programs like the Comprehensive Neighborhood Safety Strategy and the Right Response Unit, which connects people experiencing mental health crises with social workers instead of police.
Yes, but: The local 2022 homicide count was still much higher than in every year but one between 2012-2019, the exception being 2017.
- And last year's reported felonious assaults and rapes mirror 2020 figures.
Meanwhile, reports of vehicle thefts spiked as teen groups like the "Kia Boys" have targeted certain models of cars that are easier to steal.
- Such thefts have led to police chases and fatal crashes.
Also, the number of gun seizures and youth weapons arrests rose in 2022, which Ginther and police chief Elaine Bryant blame on Ohio's gun policies.
- The city declared gun violence a public health crisis and beefed up security at public parks last summer after a string of shootings.
- "I don't know why we're surprised," he said in a press conference. "We let an assault weapons ban expire in 2004, we have a proliferation of guns on city streets in our neighborhoods across America, and then somehow or another we're shocked that there's an increase in violence."
The big picture: State law preempts municipalities from enacting tougher restrictions that Ginther and Bryant want to see passed, but that hasn't stopped Columbus City Council from trying.
- The city and state are engaged in a legal battle over an ordinance passed last year to prohibit ownership of large capacity magazines, curb improper weapons storage and prevent weapons purchases on behalf of someone already prohibited from possessing one.
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