December 2020

Columbus Urban League Dec. 29 statement on public safety reforms

The following is a statement from Columbus Urban League President & CEO Stephanie Hightower regarding the City’s actions in the aftermath of the death of Andre Hill:

“There is no doubt that the only right action was to fire Officer Adam Coy—not just for what he did but for what he failed to do. What he did was shoot an unarmed Black man for seemingly no cause. What he didn’t do was even show the slightest professional or personal concern while the man he shot lay dying. One might be a terrible mistake. The other can’t be confused with anything but cruelty.

“But, as the record sadly proves, Officer Coy exemplifies all that is wrong with our current system of policing. Despite his history of disrespect and brutality, no significant action was taken against him until yet another Black man died. This isn’t just unacceptable. It is a clarion call: the time for patience is over. I join the voices of others in calling for swift action.

“We need more than just personal accountability and after-the-fact changes to policies and procedures. I hope we can proactively pursue comprehensive reforms, reforms that initiate and sustain unmistakable, enduring change.

“It appears that a comprehensive audit of the Columbus Police Department’s policies and practices is required. Authorities in Minnesota, New York and Michigan are using thorough reviews to identify and remedy outdated or racist practices and prevent future tragedies. Our community could clearly benefit from the same approach.

“We’ve focused on recruitment and retention of women, Blacks and minorities, techniques for dealing with peaceful protests, holding officers and leadership accountable for their actions and now use of body cameras and immediate first aid. These are laudable and right. Yet, let’s stop waiting for the next issue, the next tragedy, and start implementing changes that better protect the public and restore our confidence in law enforcement.

“The time has come to collectively reset the stopwatch and start over. Let’s rethink all of our core policing practices and work together to recreate a system that truly serves and protects our entire community.”

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