Columbus Mayor and Police chief discuss efforts to address crime

ABC 6 is On Your Side, in the community with Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther and Columbus police chief Elaine Bryant, investigating their efforts to combat crime across the city.

We have been tracking community concerns about violence for more than a year now. Columbus leaders are reporting a major shift in the first quarter of the year — homicide and assault numbers are tracking down, and ABC 6 is working to find out why.

A child should be able to ride their bike down the street. A mother should be able to sit on their porch without hearing gunshots,” Bryant told ABC 6.

The statistics paint a positive picture.

Bryant told ABC 6 that in the first quarter of this year, homicides and felony assault are down significantly compared to this same time last year. We are getting insight from the chief and the mayor about how, why and if those in some of our toughest communities can actually feel a difference.

In the days leading up to city leaders announcing their summer initiatives, Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther and police Chief Elaine Bryant walked the streets with ABC 6 to talk about what plagues our city, touting a wind of change.

We all shoulder a responsibility to ensure that we’re doing what the people asked us to do,” Bryant said.

Mayor Ginther, Chief Bryant and ABC 6 visited the Livingston and Lonsdale neighborhood. One of several areas of focus for the city due to past issues of crime.

We want everyone in this community to feel safe and welcome,” said Ginther.

“You chip away, and everything that we do matters,” Bryant said.

Bryant says that the police department has been successful in chipping away at crime, including homicides and felony assaults.

As of April 8, 2024, the city was investigating 18 homicide cases compared to 50 the year before during the same timeframe. When it comes to felony assault investigations, those numbers were down by nearly a hundred.

Homicide investigations, year to date:

  • 2024 — 18
  • 2023 — 50
  • 2022 — 30

Total felony assault cases, year to date:

We asked Ginther and Bryant if this positive turn is simply an aberration. They told us that the improvements citywide are the result of targeted crime fighting.

They point to the Safe Streets Initiative, which is focused on improving community-police relations, and the creation of the Office of Violence Prevention, which in part collects data on crime in neighborhoods, allowing officers to better focus efforts.

There is also the restructuring patrol zones that the city indicates is helping to improve officer response times, and the continued push to get more officers on the streets with an increased focus on recruitment.

ABC 6 took those talking points to Pastor Mark Hampton. His home is only blocks away from where we met the chief and mayor.

I don’t even think we’re at the celebration point,” said Hampton. He is on the front lines of the fight to make neighborhoods safer.

The community has come together and said ‘you know what, this is on us. We have a responsibility here, and we are stepping up,” Hampton told ABC 6.

Pastor Hampton is cautiously optimistic. City leadership is confident this positive progress is just the start.

Families living in city neighborhoods hopeful those words ring true.

We have a lot more work to do. This is great, this is one quarter’s worth of data. We’re taking a moment to celebrate and recognize the people who are doing the hard work every day; our officers, the community people who are working with our young people. But we can’t let up. We have to be vigilant,” said Ginther.

“Progress is not success. It is an indicator that we are headed in the right direction, so we have to keep that in our mind,” Hampton told ABC 6.

“I take ultimate responsibility for things that are going on; not only in my department, but in my community,” said Bryant.

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