June 5, 2020
In January, we received recommendations from the Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission, a culmination of 18 months of work reviewing the policies and procedures of the Columbus Division of Police.
These recommendations are being implemented. Many are complete, and great progress has been made on nearly every recommendation.
What’s more, this work set a strong foundation and informs the work we do every day. In this year’s State of the City Address, we called out the racism that exists in every corner of our community.
Black people and communities of color are angry, frustrated, tired and even fearful about many things happening around the country and in the city of Columbus.
And as your mayor, it’s my job to lead us to solutions.
Racism is real.
Discrimination is real.
I shared my plans to confront racism where it exists, and my plans to address it.
Since then, we’ve declared racism a public health crisis, and set bold goals to improve health outcomes, and create opportunities for communities of color.
We’ve continued this work, and began implementing the Safety Commission recommendations even in the midst of a global pandemic -- which until the tragic, senseless death of George Floyd, consumed much of our collective time and energy.
Now, there is no greater priority than combatting racism in every corner of our community, including within the Division of Police, and stopping police violence against people of color in Columbus. It is long past time.
More than two thirds of the Commission’s recommendations have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented. Police Chief Tom Quinlan is making substantial progress with all of the remaining recommendations.
I want to highlight what I know are top of mind for all of us.
First is the establishment of an independent civilian review board. Per the Commission’s recommendation, we will establish a work group by July 1 that will help create a Civilian Review Board that works for Columbus, and seat that board by the end of year. Much of what the community expects and demands may require concessions from the F.O.P., but the collective bargaining contract is up at the end of the year and we are preparing to head to the table now.
Second, we will request a third-party investigation into all incidents of fatal use of force and other use of force complaints and violations of Division policy that demand independent review. The City cannot do this alone, but will engage the state and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and work to make this happen.
Finally – and this was not a Safety Commission recommendation, but one that came from the Matrix report – we are re-evaluating the use of force continuum, including the use of spray agents to disperse crowds.
These changes alone will not bring an end to racism, nor will implementation of all of the Commission’s recommendations.
For every change we will make, there will be a call for more. But, if we start with what we know is true and right, and we continue the hard work to implement the Commission’s recommendations, we will make our community a safer place to live for all of our residents.