Whitehall resident told city is working to fight crime

Wes Kantor addressed Whitehall City Council at the Nov. 6 meeting, asking what measures are being taken to fight crime in the area bordering Columbus.

Kantor also said that he appreciated the quick response to his brother’s home a few weeks ago when his dog was shot and killed.  

He said that officers did an outstanding job when they responded to the home at Maplewood and Etna roads.  

Two black youths on bicycles reportedly shot the dog who was in a fenced yard.  Bullets also struck a window and a vehicle.  

Kantor noted, "He wasn’t just a dog, but close to all our family."

He asked council and Mayor Lynn Ochsendorf what steps are being taken to resolve the severe crime that plagues the area.  

Ochsendorf shared that after a neighborhood meeting with his brother, city officials and police officers on Oct. 26, she has contacted the Columbus Police Department officials, who have promised to step up patrols in the area.


She has also contacted Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, who she said she will be speaking to early the week of Nov. 12.  

"I can’t imagine if someone shot my dog.  How long before it’s a child?" Ochsendorf asked.

She wants to see the owners of the apartment complex on Barnett Road, that abuts the Maplewood neighborhood, to take responsibility for the blight that breeds crime.

Police Chief Richard Zitzke explained to Kantor that there is not a simple solution to the problem, as it consists of three elements:  criminal, social and demographics.  

"Youth Violence Task Force money has been funded for additional patrol in the area, some high-profile, including the paddy wagon, and some undercover in plain clothes with unmarked cars," the chief offered.  "There’s a number of ongoing investigations happening right now."  

He indicated that his department will continue to aggressively pursue those efforts.

Zitzke said that his department is talking with the Columbus police again.  "We have had many conversations in the past.  That worked for short periods of time, and then fell off.  We will keep working on it."

The chief has also talked to interim City Attorney Kevin Shannon about mobilizing the neighbors to go after landlords in Environmental Court to eventually get rid of the buildings.  

"We have to go at it in a multi-faceted way," stated Zitzke.

Council President Brent Howard reiterated that the key component is that there is no cooperation from the landowner of the complex.

Zitzke told Kantor he would gladly discuss it further, and make himself available.  

The resident acknowledged that the traffic has decreased drastically, but he often sees youths dressed alike, indicating they are gang members, and walking around the neighborhoods in groups.  

"I live on Elbern, and can sit on my front porch.  They can’t in that neighborhood," commented Kantor.

The next council meeting will be Nov.  20 at 7:30 p.m.

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