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Councilman: Fight Gun Violence with Rec Center Hours

Paul Steinbach Headshot

A Cincinnati councilman is pushing to keep the city's recreation centers open longer on the weekends as a means to disrupt a rash of gun violence in the area.

P.G. Sittenfeld wants to create what he calls "a sanctuary of safety for young people home alone on summer nights with idle hands that can be easily influenced," according to NBC affiliate WLWT in Cincinnati.

"I think when you leave people vulnerable, when you don't give them opportunity, that's when they're more susceptible to bad influences," Sittenfeld said, adding that those bad influences are behind a wave of gun violence in June and July. He wants to stem the tide by implementing a plan that will come at a price.

"I think we're talking, you know, between half a million and a million dollars, but I also say when you, as a city, have the deadliest June you've ever had, this constitutes an emergency," he said. "This is what our dollars are there to invest in."

Sittenfeld wants to use money from the city's reserve funds to pay for his plan, including hiring two more full-time community outreach workers. "In other cities, you sometimes hear them called violence disruptors, but these are really your eyes and ears on the street," he said.

The plan calls for extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays at recreation centers near gun violence hot spots, including in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

Sittenfeld told WLWT investigator Todd Dykes that he's open to hearing more ideas. Those conversations will start happening during a special session of the City Council set for Thursday at 11 a.m. at City Hall.

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