Linden Neighborhood Conversation

Robin Davis
Director of Media Relations
614.645.2425
rcdavis@columbus.gov

Melanie Crabill
Communications Manager
614.645.5300
mjcrabill@columbus.gov

Media Advisory
News Date: July 20, 2020

City of Columbus Announces Charter Amendment

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther along with Columbus City Council President Shannon G. Hardin, City Attorney Zach Klein and a host of community, business and faith leaders stood together today to announce a charter amendment to codify a Civilian Police Review Board and an Inspector General for the Columbus Division of Police. City Council will take up the legislation at its July 27, 2020, meeting. If passed, it will be placed on the November ballot for a vote by residents.

“This November Columbus voters will have the opportunity to amend the city’s constitution – The Charter – to establish a Civilian Police Review Board and create an Inspector General for the Columbus Division of Police to conduct independent investigations into police misconduct,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “The charter amendment will allow Columbus voters to clearly demonstrate their desire for police reform and establish a framework for a civilian review board that has subpoena powers, the authority to conduct independent investigations, recommend disciplinary action and that is fully staffed and funded.”

A civilian review board was one of the recommendations of the Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission presented to Mayor Ginther in January. Columbus is one of a handful of the largest cities in the U.S. without some kind of civilian oversight of police.

The charter amendment will provide the foundation for the recently appointed Civilian Review Workgroup’s recommendations on the powers, form and function of Columbus’ civilian review board, and will help ensure those recommendations are implemented with the full support of Columbus residents.

“Council heard loud and clear that our residents want to see change. Adding a Civilian Police Review Board and independent investigatory body to our City’s constitution is a critical step to making that change a reality,” said Council President Hardin. “This amendment is a strong starting point to establish a civilian review board and will allow the community to build off this foundation to shape a Board that reflects our shared values.”

Columbus City Council will hold a hearing this Wednesday July 22, 2020, at 3p.m. on this charter amendment along with other ordinances in its Reimagining Safety legislative package.

The Department of the Inspector General for the Columbus Division of Police will be an independent investigatory body that will be fully funded and staffed and directed by the Civilian Police Review Board. The Inspector General will provide for the independent investigations Columbus residents expect.

“This amendment is the foundation for a permanent civilian review board that will bring long-term accountability and promote fairness and equity in the way we want law enforcement to police our neighborhoods,” said City Attorney Zach Klein. “This is one critical piece of a fairer criminal justice system, but our work doesn’t stop here. Columbus will continue to implement meaningful reforms, big and small, to make a lasting impact on our community.”

The amendment has wide support from business, community and faith leaders.

“We appreciate the important work police officers do to protect residents,” said Alex Fischer, President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership. “At the same time, we stand in support of change that will build a better city. A civilian review board is needed in Columbus to enhance safety and trust between police and the communities they serve.” 

Most of the key elements of a strong civilian review board – things Columbus residents care most about – must be negotiated with the FOP and will likely face fierce challenges by those seeking to maintain the status quo. The charter amendment will make clear to the FOP the will of the people.

“Last month, the Columbus Branch of the NAACP called for a citizen’s review board with subpoena powers. Mayor Ginther heard our call,” said Nana Watson, President of NAACP Columbus. “This amendment to our city charter is both a positive and aggressive approach for a civilian review board. It will further assist the work group to begin to set a foundation for a civilian review board for Columbus.”