Did the $5.9 million federal gun grant make region safer?

by Rachel Dissell, The Plain Dealer  |  published on December 6, 2012

In 2007, a team of law enforcement agencies announced a plan to combat a wave of gun violence plaguing eight Northern Ohio cities with a $5.9 million grant and the creation of an Ohio Gun Crime Center.

The Justice Department gave the grant to the group, which included Cleveland, Akron, Toledo, Youngstown, Lorain, Elyria, Canton, Mansfield and state and federal agencies. A federal official called the unprecedented cooperation historic.

Five years later, there is no gun center, and key components of the plan to track, trace and take guns off the street have been sidelined, even though officials insist the taxpayer millions were well spent on technology to build up cooperation, crime mapping and crime analysis capabilities.

Concrete evidence on whether the grant –the largest of its kind handed out at the time — impacted gun violence has yet to emerge.

“Have we accomplished everything we wanted to?” asked Craig Tame, law enforcement coordination committee manager for the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Northern District of Ohio, during a recent interview.

“It’s a work in progress. We are still building capacity and still working together,” Tame said.

Meanwhile, gun crimes rage on, with no regional strategy to quell them in sight.

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