August 5, 2020
The last few months have been a time
of unprecedented challenges for our community. We are on the eve of a national
election that has polarized our nation and state, in the midst of a summer that
has seen a surge in gun violence that continues to plague cities across
America. The ongoing impact of COVID-19 on our collective health and wellness,
our families and the economy and a national reckoning over racial injustice and
police brutality have borne the call for police reform. From this has also come
the narrative that holding police accountable when they abuse their power and
violate public trust demonstrates a lack of support for law enforcement.
That idea is simply false.
Support and reform are not an either
In fact, holding bad cops accountable is critical so we may support the vast
majority of officers who are committed to keeping our neighborhoods safe. I
fully support the Columbus Division Police, our officers and their families. I
also believe we need to make significant change within the Division. The two
are not mutually exclusive.
We launched independent investigations
into police misconduct because, again, we must be able to hold police
accountable if they violate their oath and the rights of others. Support does
not negate accountability.
We are the only major city that does
not have some kind of civilian oversight of police – and I am committed to
changing that. Residents will have the opportunity to vote in November on
adding a civilian police review board to the charter of our city. We seated a
diverse work group – including retired police officers, activists and attorneys
– to help define what that review board will look like, and to ensure it
represents national best practices and reflects local input. And, most
importantly, that we are able to support good officers and root out the bad.
We are also reviewing what policing
means in our community. Over the years, police have become responsible for
calls for mental health, drug addiction, truancy and other social issues. We
have started to find ways to reduce the burden we place on law enforcement, to
allow social workers and health professionals to do the job for which they were
trained, and to allow police officers to serve and protect.
I support our police, and I believe we need