By Dan Yount
The Cincinnati Herald
On June 4, Diamond Green, 21, was fatally shot in a shootout between her uncle Jonathan Green and Taureen Rice at Walnut and East Liberty Streets in Over-the-Rhine when her uncle allegedly pushed her into the line of fire to save himself. While it appears Rice actually shot and killed Diamond Green, both Green and Rice are charged with her murder, with the judge ordering them both to be held on bonds of a million dollars each. Both of the men were also shot in the exchange of firefight.
At the time, Jonathan Green had been under indictment for drug trafficking and drug possession charges. Cincinnati Police Department records show Green already had been arrested on 52 felony charges, 20 of which ended up in convictions, prior to this most recent incident.
“He’s been on our radar for some time,’’’ said Cincinnati Police Department Assistant Chief Lt. Col. Paul Neudigate. “Our gang enforcement unit has targeted him, usually catching him with illegal drugs. He makes the ten percent requirement of the bond and is out the next day, just another felon taking advantage of our criminal justice system’s revolving door, a system that is under pressure to keep the jail numbers down and a system that makes it challenging and difficult for police.’’
With Jonathan Green, however, Neudigate says the only way to get him off the streets is through this homicide arrest. And with Green behind bars, Neudigate said the streets already have become a little quieter.
GREEN APPEARS to have been operating independently, reflecting a recent shift in local crime operations, Neudigate said. “Now we don’t see the gang structure we once had in the city, such as the A1 gang that operated out of Avondale when I was stationed in District Four. You don’t see the gang graffiti or the red and blue bandanas of the old gangs around anymore. Those former gang members are now operating independently,’’
CIRV (Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence) was created in 2007 to focus on reducing gang violence, but that strategy has become less effective today, with the break up of the gangs, Neudigate said. In 2007, CPD’s gang list named about 2,000 individuals; now that list has been trimmed to 350 members, he said.
Why? CPD is now more selective and thorough about who gets placed on the gang list, and the list is updated more frequently. The focus now is on a subgroup of from 50 to 60 “trigger pullers,’’ he said.
Also, they has been increased cooperation between CPD and federal prosecutors, who can seek sentences that are measured in years, rather than in months under state sentencing guidelines.
“We make sure those individuals engaged in violent crime know this, for we distribute flyers in challenged areas of neighborhoods, such as some streets in Price Hill, Millvale, Over-the-Rhine and the West End, notifying them that arrests in this area is now strictly reviewed for federal,’’ Neudigate said.
AVONDALE, WHICH LED Cincinnati communities in gun violence in 2017 with 46 shooting victims, is no longer at the top of that list (currently #9, it was #1). There have been just nine shooting victims in Avondale at this date in 2018 compared to 19 victims at this date in 2017. There were 30 shooting victims in Avondale at this time of the year in 2015.
Also contributing to the reduction in local violent crime have been new technologies and strategies adopted by Cincinnati police, Neudigate said. ShotSpotter, which came online at CPD in 2016, has had a huge effect on criminal behavior, he said. “The shooters know that we now respond to the exact location of gunshots every time a trigger is pulled,’’ he said.
A new strategy, called Place-Based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories (PIVOT), is a data-driven, citywide violence reduction plan that is designed to disrupt criminal activity in persistent violent locations. It was adopted by CPD in February 2016.
“Everybody is looking for that “magic bullet,’ so to speak, that will reduce violent crime,’’ Neudigate said. “It was CIRV in 2007. Now, we have several effective ways of reducing violent crime.’’
Add to the tools in dealing with crime-ridden neighborhoods the word “gentrification’’ and community stabilizations, Neudigate said, pointing out that the Over-the-Rhine community was once one of the most violent in the nation. Police spent thousands of hours addressing the situation there and were not able to significantly reduce violent crime. “Redevelopment there resulted in the displacement of the criminal element. That was the key. We had the community taking ownership of their neighborhood,’’ he said.
WITH CPD EXPERIENCING success in getting violent criminals off the streets and removing crime habitats, Neudigate says police and communities need to do a better job in working with the victims, the survivors, which are the third leg of the crime fighting triangle involves the offender, the location and the victim.
“Many of these victims are repeat offenders, often trigger pullers themselves. Without getting them the help they need to turn their lives around, they become suspects again or may themselves be shot,’’ he said.
Statistics show Cincinnati police made 4o% fewer arrests in 2016 than in 2001 when the department employed a “zero-tolerance’’ strategy to fight violent crime. “That strategy did not work, and the community would not tolerate it,’’ he said.
While making significantly fewer arrests, the City of Cincinnati has also show a 38% reduction in Part I crime during over the last 15 years. In using the current strategies, police are showing a 35 to 38% reduction in Part 1 violent crimes (homicides, rape, robbery and aggravated assault), and in Part 1 property crimes (burglary, breaking and entering, theft from auto. auto theft, personal property theft and other theft).
“We are moving in the right direction in pulling the criminal justice system together,’’ he said. And Cincinnati is now not as violent as it was just a few years back,’’ he said.
There was a high of 479 persons shot in Cincinnati in 2015, when police did not have a solid violence reduction strategy in place, Neudigate said. At that time the heat was on former Chief Jeffrey Blackwell, who was forced to step down. He was replaced by current Chief Eliot Isaac.
Then in 2016, a “guncentric ‘’ strategy was developed to identify and go after the trigger pullers, and shootings went down to 426. Four hundred ten people were shot in the city last year, with 61 of those people fatally shot. This year looks even better, with shootings down 20% year-to-date for 2018. The immediate goal is to fall under 400 shooting victims for the year (2018) and continue to drive the numbers down from there, he said. The fewer people shot, the fewer die, he said. And those shot near University of Cincinnati Medical Center have a better chance of surviving due to receiving immediate medical attention, he added.
NEUDIGATE SAYS the public tends to focus on the number of homicides, which average about 66 per year, but many of the factors on whether a shooting victims lives or dies are beyond police control. The more telling factor on whether current violence reduction strategies are successful is whether the total number of shooting victims is being reduced, he said. But when one focuses on violent crime as a whole (homicides, rape, robbery and aggravated assault), crime is significantly down, although homicides are now down 10% compared to last year. Violent crime is down 22% compared to last year, but the figures have been stable for the last four years and are significantly reduced since 2011. There were 33% fewer robberies last year, compared to those in 2011.
Property crimes in the city also show a significant reduction, from 21,000 offenses in 2011 to 15,188 in 2017.
“We can keep these crime statistics heading downwards if all of the parts of the community that deal with these issues work in tandem.’’ Neudigate said. “But even then there will always be those individuals who continue to prey on society, and it’s our job to deal with them.’’
Neudigate has served at every level of law enforcement imaginable. He began his career in 1989 as a Hamilton County corrections officer and moved on to become a police officer in Elmwood Place, Ohio, before making the decision to join CPD.
He served as a patrol supervisor in Districts 3 and 4, a planning section researcher, a SWAT unit member and a “street corner”(drug) unit supervisor. He became a lieutenant in 2007 and held the titles of central vice control section assistant commander, Vortex unit commander and assistant SWAT coordinator.
In 2011, Neudigate earned the rank of captain and became night chief. He then became District 5 commander.
He was promoted to lieutenant colonel and named assistant chief in 2016.
He has a bachelor of science in justice administration from the University of Louisville and a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati.