A new long-term initiative of the Columbus Division of Police aimed at fighting crime and other urban woes will focus on three sections of the city, including one in the Salem Civic Association area.
The program, called “Healthy Communities,” was developed by a crime analyst and will operate out of the division’s Strategic Response Bureau on Morse Road.
The concept, as outlined by community liaison officers Scott Clinger and Larry Geis at a meeting last week of Block Watch captains from throughout the Northland area, is to target places with significant crime but also lots of community resources in the form of involved citizens and local business owners.
In addition to a greater police presence to combat crime, virtually every city agency with enforcement or regulatory responsibilities would be brought in, including code enforcement, the Division of Fire, Columbus Public Health and many others, according to Clinger.
State agencies might also become involved; Clinger specifically mentioned the Ohio Department of Taxation.
The Northland neighborhood included in Healthy Communities encompasses the Continent and the area around Zumstein Drive and Mediterranean Avenue, Clinger said. This is a sector with a variety of discount motels and hotels, and crime in the area includes car break-ins and prostitution, he added.
The success of the program will depend on receiving help and information from — in the case of the Northland test effort — the Salem Civic Association, business owners and managers in the area and other entities such as the SR-161 Task Force, according to Clinger.
“What are the most pressing issues in the community?” he asked.
“Obviously, community will be our first start, businesses will be our second part,” Geis said.
“They felt there was plenty of support in this area,” Clinger said.
“And they were right,” chipped in SR-161 Task Force chairman Dave Cooper.
Healthy Communities will be instituted soon, Clinger said. He cautioned that the planning phase is just being concluded and the program may be subject to revisions as it is being implemented.
“We’re going to tweak it as we go,” he said.
“There’s no real set formula to this yet,” put in Geis. “We’re trying to develop it as we go. It’s all in the baby stage right now.”
Geis and Clinger also cautioned Block Watch representatives that Healthy Communities will not, nor is it intended to, make urban problems disappear right away.
“It’s not a short-term solution,” Clinger said. “It’s more of a long-term kind of thing.”
He mentioned a time frame of as long as a year to 18 months.
“We’ll get her done,” Geis predicted.
“We’re hoping to make a difference,” Clinger added.
The other two areas to receive the Health Communities approach are both along East Main Street, one near the intersection with Miller Avenue and the other around the intersection with South Napoleon Avenue.
“This is the priority all the way up the chain of command,” Clinger said.