Mayor Message

Media Relations Team

Melanie Crabill
Director of Media Relations
[email protected]

Kevin Kilbane
Director of Communications
[email protected]

News Releases

September 15, 2020

At the end of May, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer and the country erupted in grief, anger and outrage. Streets of Columbus filled with protesters sharing those emotions and demanding change in policing.

We all saw images that fell far short of what we expected from some of our police officers as a community during those weeks. And because of that, I set up a hotline to take complaints outside the police chain of command and to have them investigated independently.

We referred 32 of these complaints to the law firm of BakerHostetler to investigate for actions outside of Division policy and then be referred to the Division for discipline, or administrative action. More serious offenses – 21 to date – have been turned over to a former FBI agent who is now working to investigate potential criminal charges.

Many of the reports by BakerHostetler have been completed, and the results were surprising to me and to others. The majority of the cases were returned as “not sustained” – meaning there was not a preponderance of evidence to prove or disprove the complaint. Only one complaint so far has been sustained.

I am frustrated and angry that police behavior that did not meet community expectations will not be met with swift discipline.

The results from these investigations prove to me more clearly than ever the need for police reform.

BakerHostetler identified the challenges they faced in these investigations – including the unwillingness of some officers to share information and incomplete after action reports by other officers, making it virtually impossible in some cases to identify the officers involved.

Division training and policy also contributed to some of the results of the investigations. That is, at the time of the protests, some officer interactions – including the use of pepper spray – were within Division policy. Changes to that policy -- specifically the use of chemical agents – including how riot gear was used, how officers identified themselves and the use of body cameras resulted in fewer complaints.

Regardless, there are still instances where officers acted in manner that violated the public trust and where I expected officers would be held accountable.

The need for a civilian review board with subpoena power and an inspector general office is more apparent than ever. Had those been in place, investigations could have been launched without awaiting complaints from the public. And subpoenas would have compelled witnesses to give testimony.

These investigations are not the end of our commitment to police reform. They will become part of the Carter Stewart high-level report of how the city as a whole responded to protests.

Chief Quinlan now meets regularly with the Chief’s Advisory Panel seated in July to continue to discuss policies and procedures at CPD.

And I will continue stress the need for police reform, revisions to the FOP contract and a civilian review board with subpoena powers.