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UC to deploy 'safety ambassadors' in areas near campus

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UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, OH (FOX19) -

In an effort to reduce crime, the University of Cincinnati will deploy a team of 'Block By Block safety ambassadors' in the neighborhoods adjacent to its campus.

Louisville-based Block by Block said it serves 66 programs throughout the nation, including working for Downtown Cincinnati Inc.

UC said Block by Block has been active in Cincinnati since 2001 in the downtown business district. The work includes augmenting police services in the central business district by providing "additional eyes and ears," UC said.

The UC Block By Block team will be deployed from 6:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. in the areas east and south of campus, particularly along Short Vine and in the U Square area, UC said. 

The ambassadors will support Cincinnati Police and UC Police in efforts to improve safety and security in the area by creating a welcoming and engaging environment near UC's campus in high foot-traffic areas and adjacent residential areas, he said.

"It's just like basically being a big brother or big sister that's out here all the time," said Markita Coach, one of the new ambassadors.

School leaders, police, and community organizers hope this will cut down on crime. The partnership between UC, Block by Block and Cincinnati police is a first in the nation. 

"They really are here to serve as ambassadors, rather than security personnel," said Wayne Weiss of Block by Block. 

Ambassadors will patrol around campus and the neighborhood most nights from 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. They plan to be a visible part of the community, providing eyes and ears for the police, and some assistance if people need help. 

"We're going to try and maybe educate students better on safety practices, weather its walking in groups, leaving things not exposed in their vehicles so that they don't become targets for crime, and just a few more safe practices that they might not be aware of because they are first year students, they've not been away from home before," said Weiss. 

It's an idea that is welcomed by those who live and work around the large campus, people like business owner Levi Benton of Vursa Limited, who says safety is a huge concern for him. 

"That's one of the reasons that we close a little bit early is because we know the neighborhood's history and how, well, we heard some stories before moving in so I'm actually happy that it will open up a whole new world and market for us to be open late," said Benton. 

Patrols will run 7 days a week. 

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