Council Begins Effort to Reimagine Public Safety
LegislativePackage for July Consideration Followed by Robust Community Engagement toReimagine Safety
Columbus, OH] On Thursday, June 25, 2020, Columbus City Council announced short- and long-term steps in response to recent instances of police misconduct and ongoing unrest. Prior to the August recess, Council will advance a legislative package that includes independent investigations into lethal force, limiting or banning no-knock raids, demilitarizing the police and instituting background checks for hate-group affiliation.
Public hearings on these items will be held to ensure the community's voice is involved. In the long-term following the legislative recess, Council will engage in a community process to reimagine public safety leading into the 2021 operating budget.
These efforts are in addition to working with the Administration and the Department of Public Safety to immediately implement recommendations from the Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission Report, which can be found here, and the commissioned report by Matrix Consulting on the Columbus Division of Police, which can be found here.
July Legislative Package
No-Knock and Quick-Knock Raids
No-knock warrants permit entry into a business or residence without first knocking or identifying oneself as a police officer. No-knock raids are considered dangerous and unnecessary by many academics and advocacy organizations. Council will hold hearings to determine Columbus Division of Police' current usage of no-knock and quick-knock raids and advance legislation based on findings.
Expand Background Checks for Police to include Hate-GroupAffiliation
Council will pursue the expansion of background checks to include hate group affiliations. A resident submitted this concept. Council will elevate this conversation by holding a public hearing on this idea and advancing legislation.
Demilitarize the Police
Council will vote to destroy weapons identified in the Obama Administration's prohibited weapons list and review items on the controlled list, such as Humvees and batons, to determine further action. Council will hold a hearing on this topic on June 30 at 4 pm.
The Community Safety Advisory Commission advanced multiple accountability measures in their list of recommendations. The items include, creating a Civilian Review Board and a City-funded, operationally-independent, professionally-staffed, public entity empowered to participate fully in criminal or administrative investigations involving CDP personnel. As a stop-gap measure, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther formalized an agreement to allow the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) to investigate the Columbus Division of Police's use of lethal force. However, legislative action is required to advance the implementation of the Community Safety Advisory Commission's recommendations.
Reimagining Public Safety
Council will conduct a public engagement process to help residents reimagine public safety. This process will then lead into the 2021 operating budget process. The Mayor delivers a proposed operating budget to Council in mid-November. Council then hosts public engagement on the budget as a whole. This process will encourage residents to expand their conceptualization of public safety. Additionally, Council will begin a thorough investigation into alternative methods for public safety response. Some programs already in existence include Rapid Response Emergency Addiction and Crisis Teams (RREACT), which responds to opioid addiction situations, the Mobile Crisis Response Unit, which arrests 90 percent fewer people in mental health crisis situations than regular officers, and APPS, which aims to reduce crime and violence by increasing protective factors in the lives of Columbus youth and young adults (ages 14-23) through proven prevention and intervention strategies. Additional details will be forthcoming about this community-oriented process.
Quotes from Councilmembers
"As a black man helping to raise a young black man, we need radical changes to our institutions of public safety and our understanding of public safety," said Council President Shannon G. Hardin. "I am committed to this because it's my life and my nephew Christian's life on the line."
“When looking at the fundamental question “are we keeping every resident safe” we know the current and long-standing system is failing,” said Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown. “The answers and the path forward lie in the voices of those who are fighting to be heard right now. We all must listen.”
“There are racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” said Councilmember Priscilla Tyson. “As we are reimagining policing we have to utilize our resources and funding to address the underlying causes of the social determinants of health including racism and poverty.”
"I support Chief Quinlan and the Division of Police," said Councilmember Mitchell J. Brown. "However, it is vital that we institute policies that prohibit our officers from unjustly causing harm to our citizens. I look forward to utilizing my experience to develop innovative programming that will supplement the services of police and address the socioeconomic issues within our community. Change is constant; it does not happen overnight. It will be challenging, but it will be worth it."
“As we begin to reimagine public safety in our community, I think it would be a disservice to not acknowledge the foreseeable risks associated with the use of No-Knock and Quick-Knock Warrants” said Councilmember Emmanuel V. Remy. “I am committed to reviewing our local raid policies to ensure they align with best practices and safety of our community.”
“To reimagine public safety in Columbus means we must take a hard look at all of the systems that contribute to inequities in our community,” said Councilmember Shayla Favor. “In addition to considering legislation that will require Hate Group Affiliation Background Checks for Columbus Division of Police officers and 911 call operators, I am also committed to prioritizing a budget that focuses on safe, affordable housing and criminal justice reforms that exist outside of the City’s Department of Public Safety. Change is difficult and scary, but we must take up this charge to build an equitable Columbus that works for all of our citizens.”
"We don’t need another study, commission or panel to tell us that we need to reshape the way we investigate the use of force by officers," said Councilmember Rob Dorans. "We’ve heard it loud and clear from our residents. Now it is time for legislative action to create independent investigation to restore the trust and confidence that I know is felt by so many."