Turning anger into action: OTR neighbors pull together to fight crime

OTR neighbors pull together to fight crime (WKRC)

OVER-THE-RHINE, Ohio (WKRC) - “We're mad and we're not going to take it anymore.”

That's the message from residents in an Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, where children in an afterschool program had to hit the floor when gunfire started.

Neighbors have turned their anger into action, and it's making a difference.

A daytime execution style shooting was caught on camera near Grant Park in May.

Then in July, five people were shot near the park on McMicken in July.

Open-air drug dealing and the violence it attracts had become part of the lives of children who play there, including 3-year-old mason and 1-year-old Noah.

"It made me sad to see stuff all the time… I don't have a choice but to tell them that's not the way to live that's the way they chose to live,” said Alyssa Cooper, a mom who lives in in OTR.

For residents, enough is enough. John Donaldson started a different kind of block watch, where eyes are not just residents, but private cameras, 45 of them, online and linked to police.

"Shootings are way down… haven't had one since the middle of July, end of July," said John Donaldson, a Block Watch Organizer.

"Couple of shootings solved because of private cameras, pretty amazing,” said Cincinnati Police Officer Brendan Rock. "Not just cameras, but people who will call police on them.”

The cameras helped push heroin users out of the park after a mother was caught on camera shooting up in front of her son. Video led to her arrest.

And residents say bike patrols have made a huge difference. They often ride through the neighborhood.

Drug dealers used to run away then come back, but lately many are just staying away.

What's noticeable is there is no garbage used to be a dumping ground, including mattresses. The city brought new garbage cans, street sweeper shows people care about the neighborhood.

Another first was the neighborhood party. 400 people showed up in Grant Park to send a message to each other and the troublemakers.

Change, it can be as big as the arrest of a heroin dealer, or as small as the actions of a little boy, like Alyssa’s little one who was caught doing a good deed by throwing away some litter while his mom was being interviewed.

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