Columbus police Safe Streets program expands to 2 neighborhoods

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The Columbus Division of Police said 2017 was a violent year for the Parsons Avene Corridor between Frebis Avenue and State Route 104.

Now, Safe Streets Parsons Avenue Corridor is hoping to connect with south Columbus neighbors and make the community safer this summer.

In 2017, police launched the Safe Streets Linden pilot program in northeast Columbus. The unit, comprised of two sergeants and 10 officers, patrolled the Linden neighborhood on bicycles and took the time to listen to resident's concerns.

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The City of Columbus credited Safe Streets Linden for reducing crime in that community by 55 percent.

This year, police expanded the program to both the Parsons Avenue Corridor and the Hilltop neighborhood in west Columbus. Police said it makes a huge difference to get out the cruisers, and away from the pressure of taking run after run after run.

"A lot of times in your cruiser, you don't mean to be short, but you look over at your computer screen and there's 30-runs holding," said Sgt. Brian Vegh, who heads up Safe Streets Parsons Avenue Corridor.

Police said the goal is to build relationships with neighbors in hopes of not only solving neighborhood crimes but providing intervention before a neighborhood feud boils over into an act of violence.

Columbus police said in the past seven weeks, Safe Streets has collectively arrested 115 felons, recovered 26 firearms, seized 285 grams of crack and cocaine, and made personal contact with more than 2,000 neighbors.

It's welcome news to south Columbus resident, Linda Henry. The community activist said her determination to stand her ground against criminals has earned her the nickname,"bulldog."

"Because once I start, I don't stop," said Henry.

Henry said she's encouraged by signs of revitalization in south Columbus, and said she believes Safe Streets will break down barriers and empower south side neighbors to take back their streets by working more closely with police.

"They're out there showing you that they're not the bad guys, that they are somebody that you can talk to and rely on and trust in," said Henry.