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Ogden Avenue Block Watch

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Gangs taking over street, Hilltop residents complain
Police at forum hear about violence
Friday, December 01, 2006
Matthew Marx

They drink. They fight. They sell dope.

They spray graffiti and trash property.

Emboldened by a shortage of patrol officers and a revolvingdoor justice system, they hang out on residential streets day and night, starting trouble that sometimes ends in gunfire.

Gang members are becoming bolder and more violent on S. Ogden Avenue, concerned Hilltop homeowners and community leaders told Columbus police last night.

"Can we get more patrol officers out here? We don’t see them," said Ogden resident Kara Hayes.

Neighbors in the 600 block of S. Ogden reported seeing and hearing 20 to 28 gang members routinely sitting around, drinking beer and cursing loudly at 3 a.m. and later.

"You call police. They break them up. They’re back out there the next night," resident Lonnie Wellman said.

Another resident had surveillance video taken from his front lawn overnight on Tuesday. The video showed a car coming to a stop in the middle of the street and a young man jumping out. Someone shouted invectives as the man destroyed holiday decorations at a neighbor’s house.

Police advised neighbors to be more diligent about reporting gang activity, especially graffiti. Even if officers aren’t able to respond immediately for a "minor" offense, the number of police runs recorded by dispatchers helps determine how many officers are deployed in a precinct.

You can tell a lot about the gangs in your neighborhood from the graffiti they scrawl on walls, detective Jim Sandford said during the gang-violence forum.

"Graffiti art, to us, is like news in the street," Sandford said.

Suspected gang members were blamed for a recent gunfight that erupted on a Sunday afternoon. A number of homes were sprayed with bullets, said Justin Boggs, a member of the Greater Hilltop Area Commission and South Ogden Avenue Block Watch. The Block Watch covers Ogden between W. Mound Street and Sullivant Avenue.

About 20 of the 30 people who attended the forum live on S. Ogden. The rest were police officers, city officials or concerned citizens from nearby areas.

In addition to what was reported by Matt Marx, the Block Watch assigned four new captains to be contact people to call about crime issues.
The Block Watch will continue communicating with the Columbus Division of Police and it's Gang Unit. If you have any information, please call us at 276-7542.