Leaders call for police reform
Courtesy of QFM96
June 4, 2020
COLUMBUS – Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein was joined by black community and faith leaders in calling for police and justice reforms in Columbus
The group laid out eight action steps, including a review of Columbus police actions during recent protests over the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis and other reforms.
“Leaders have a responsibility to ensure that all community members are respected and safe and that law enforcement have the training, policies and procedures that reflect our expectations,” Klein said.
In addition to Klein, the group included Columbus Urban League President and CEO Stephanie Hightower; Elder Larry Price, chairman of the Columbus Chapter of the NAACP Criminal and Justice Committee; and Pastor Frederick LaMarr, president of the Baptist Pastor’s Conference of Columbus.
The move comes amid criticism that Columbus police were too quick to employ pepper spray and tear gas to clear demonstrators from streets during five days of destructive protests.
The leaders are calling for a special counsel to investigate the city’s handling of the protests, a review of Division of Police policies and procedures regarding the clearing of streets, ending the “broad use of chemical agents against nonviolent protesters and requiring verbal warnings,” and the formation of a citizen review board, a recommendation by the Community Safety Commission that has been embraced by Mayor Andrew Ginther and other leaders, but which must be approved during contract negotiations with the police officers’ union.
Klein says his office has submitted photos and video evidence of pepper spray and tear gas being used on protestor and asks members of the public to submit to police any evidence they may have “that could potentially identify individuals or groups inciting violence and destruction so that we can hold those individuals accountable.”
Evidence can be submitted to the Department of Public Safety’s Equal Opportunity Compliance Office at reportCPD@columbus.gov or directly to the Internal Affairs Bureau at IABDeskSgt@columbuspolice.org.
Klein wants his office to make decisions on alleged misdemeanor criminal offenses before they are filed, similar to the charging process for the Franklin County Prosecutor with felony offenses, to ensure that appropriate charges are then filed.
The group also called for a review of the ordinances related to traffic and pedestrian offenses to see how enforcement of those offenses “can have an adverse impact on building trust between the police and the Black community.”
The group also called for additional hours added to the police training program to allow an “immersion experience” to improve relationship between the officers and the communities they serve.
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