January 2021

Columbus officials plan addresses public safety and police reform efforts Thursday

Courtesy of ABC 6
By Mary Smith
January 20, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — Columbus held a news conference Thursday about police body cameras, early intervention systems for officers, efforts on police reform, and the introduction of ‘Andre’s Law.”

The presser featured Mayor Andrew Ginther, Council President Shannon Hardin, and Police Chief Thomas Quinlan.

While it wasn’t known before the event what the city planned to say, Columbus Urban League CEO, Stephanie Hightower, hopes these efforts are just the beginning.

“The biggest thing I think is important here is that we need to make sure that from a public perspective, that we ask for an audit of all of the police procedures and policy, not just what the safety advisory committee did. They did great work but an expert that would come in and do a deep dive,” she said.

Last week, City Council began a series of town halls on “reimagining public safety.” The first focused on police reform and an alternative to officers showing up to certain calls like mental health emergencies.

“As of part of the council’s reimagining safety initiative, the council is holding six town halls to hear from national experts and residents. This, in addition to focus groups and a community survey, will help inform council as we head towards passing an operating budget in February,” said Hardin during the first town hall on Jan. 13.

Several city officials, including Ginther, have called for police reform in the last year and following the recent shooting death of Andre Hill by a CPD officer who has since been fired.

Executive Vice President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9, Jeff Simpson, says in response to tomorrow’s scheduled news conference:

“Changes to the use of Body Worn Cameras must be negotiated with the FOP. Prior to their initial implementation, the City approached the FOP, asked for an agreement. and we quickly negotiated such. The FOP had no issues with the transparency the BWCs would bring to the community. As always, the FOP is open for discussion on anything that will make policing better for the citizens and our officers. Issues of Police Reform and Safety Investments can easily be dealt with by the City and the FOP in a quick and effective manner so things can be better for community. However, communication and willingness to work together is a two way street. It is unfortunate that the Mayor and City Council continue to disregard and attack the Collective Bargaining Process. All of the Unions in Central Ohio, who all operate within the same legal perimeters as the FOP should be taking notice and they should very concerned. As far as the rendering aid, our officers operate best with clear direction. There has been a breakdown in leadership within the Division of Police and the Mayor as to what they require of our members. Give our members clear instruction with the training, equipment needed and we will take care of business in the manner we are instructed to do so.”

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