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Columbus, OH 43215


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Council Releases Reimagine Safety Survey Results

Nearly 4,000 Residents Respond, Overwhelmingly Support for Creation of Alternative Crisis Response Systems and Services to Residents Facing Mental Illness, Homelessness

[COLUMBUS-OH] In a hearing Tuesday, March 2, 2021, Columbus City Council highlighted the results of the Reimagine Public Safety outreach effort, with nearly 4,000 residents sharing ideas and input. The majority of responses backed reforms such as the creation of an alternative response system for non-violent situations called into 911. There is also broad support for better community programming to prevent neighborhood violence.

“Council’s most important role is to listen to the community and work to keep our community safe,” said Council President Shannon G. Hardin. “This feedback will form the basis for Council’s investments in reimagining safety and drive ongoing reform efforts.”

The survey and community engagement campaign were facilitated for City Council by the Saunders PR Group. Thousands of residents responded to the online survey, submitted ideas across multiple focus groups and town hall discussions from December 2020 through early February 2021.

“Protecting the safety of every resident is one of our most basic responsibilities,” said President Pro Tempore Elizabeth Brown. “The status quo is not acceptable, and as we implement change, it is critical to hear the voices and respond to the diverse experiences of every resident to move our city in a better, more equitable direction.”

The findings from the 16-question online survey were shared with Council and the public during the March 2, 2021, Reimagining Safety Public Hearing. Highlights include:

  • When asked whether an alternative crisis response should be considered for 911, respondents strongly agree:

o   60% of respondents indicate an alternative should be used for mental health crisis calls

o   59% of respondents indicate an alternative should be used for mental health situations

o   58% of respondents indicate an alternative should be used for homeless services

o   57% of respondents indicate an alternative should be used for non-weapon relates suicide calls

o   56% of respondents indicate an alternative should be used for wellness checks

  • When asked to rank their top choices when exploring different aspects and impacts of public safety:

o   81% of respondents chose getting to the root causes of violence as the top priority

o   77% of respondents selected housing, economic stability and public health

o   74% of respondents preferred replacing some police responses with trained crisis responders

o   72% of respondents say creating police/agency partnership is important

o   68% of respondents prioritized decriminalizing certain non-violent acts 

Other findings indicate respondents are comfortable with law enforcement and trained professionals responding together on calls related to homelessness, human trafficking, child abuse/neglect and wellness checks.

Respondents indicate Columbus City Council should consider expanding, increasing or creating new programs:

  • 63% of respondents say community-oriented policing should be expanded
  • 59% of respondents say job training should be expanded
  • 57% of respondents say reentry programs should be expanded
  • 57% of respondents say youth initiatives should be expanded
  • 54% of respondents say violence preventions programs should be expanded

A series of six virtual town hall sessions in January and February 2021 included local and national experts on the topics of:

  • Investing in accountability and a better Division of Police
  • Establishing alternative crisis response models; and
  • Investing in violence prevention.

The public had an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas during the town hall as part of the public engagement portion of the meetings. In addition, 26 speakers shared formal remarks and comments over the six-session period. Focus groups and stakeholder outreach were part of the engagement efforts.

Full findings from the online survey, town hall meetings and other outreach activities will be posted later this week at