German Village residents meet with police after recent attacks

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Neighbors in German Village met with Columbus police on Wednesday to come up with solutions to stay safe, after a recent string of attacks in the neighborhood.

Josie Merkle, one of three women recently assaulted in German Village, came to the meeting to share her story and talk about ways to ensure safety.

“My attack happened at 9:30 in the morning. Bright daylight. It happened in the garage,” Merkle said.

As Merkle works to recover from that attack, she’s joining with her neighbors to prevent this from happening to anyone else.

“Until something happens, nobody really gets involved,” said Abby Lavelle, who has lived in German Village for more than three years. “And now, seeing your friends and neighbors getting assaulted, their properties being vandalized, their homes being […] invaded, they are now more engaged.”

Neighbors talked about ways to be more vigilant and proactive about the crimes and discussed forming block watch groups, lighting and cameras in the area. People also pressed police officers for answers about the investigation into the assaults. Police said the investigation is ongoing.

Kristin Eckert, who moved to Columbus last year from Dallas, said she comes from a family of law enforcement. While she is concerned about the crimes in German Village, she said she wanted to present a realistic perspective to her neighbors.

“While car break-ins might seem like a really big deal to the individual or to people on your block, there’s a lot of other things that are happening,” Eckert said.

Council member Mitchell J. Brown attended the meeting and reminded people that investigations take time and are not immediate.

“These crimes are not solved like they are on television in 40 minutes,” Brown said. “It takes time, it takes a lot of hard work and it takes community engagement.”

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