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Columbus, OH 43215


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Council Advances Third Phase of Reimagining Public Safety

Proposals to improve neighborhood safety, advance police reforms

[Columbus, OH] On Wednesday, June 30, 2021, Columbus City Council presented short-, and long-term proposals to prevent violence and increase neighborhood safety while continuing the push for improved accountability, training and engagement in the Division of Police.    

“Every resident deserves to feel safe no matter where they live or when they leave the house,” said Council President Shannon G. Hardin. "With this legislative package, we aim to keep neighborhoods safe, continue reform, and build trust between the community and law enforcement." 

Since the fall of 2020, Council facilitated more than 4,000 resident surveys, 22 hours of public hearings, dozens of town halls, focus groups, commissioned studies and conducted internal dialogue with City staff, including the Division of Police, to refine what is best for Columbus. Last summer’s initial package included independent investigations into lethal force, limiting no-knock raids, beginning to demilitarize the police, instituting background checks for hate-group affiliation and creating the Civilian Police Review Board. 

“We listened to our residents. We listened to our police officers,” said Hardin. “Both are asking for support and have ideas on how to make us safer while advancing reforms and modernizing the entire Division.”


Investing in Neighborhood Safety

We are one community. It is the role and responsibility of Council to listen to its neighbors and take action. Gun violence, human trafficking and quality of life issues that include ATVs, dirt bikes and noise are affecting how we live. The work to address these  is underway with the sole purpose of improving the quality of life for residents.


Solicitation Code

Council recently introduced legislation to amend the City’s solicitation code with new provisions regarding human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our most vulnerable neighborhoods and residents, leading to increases in crime and solicitation in our communities. Therefore, in addition to increasing the penalties to the buyers of sex, Council will be investing $480,000 in service organizations dedicated to direct outreach with victims of human trafficking and community members who struggle with addiction.


Firearm Safety

Gun violence has had a huge impact on this community. Unfortunately, a large number of the persons impacted have been young people, who have gained access to a firearm. Just last week, an 11-year-old was critically injured because a 14-year-old family member was playing with a parent’s gun. Council partnered with the Columbus Division of Fire to provide access to free gun locks, no questions asked. Beginning next week, any adult will be able to obtain a gun lock from any one of our Fire Stations across the City. 

“The safety of our community is paramount,” said Councilmember Mitchell J. Brown. “We shouldn’t have accidental shootings of children with unlocked guns. We need to ‘Love our Children by Locking our Guns.’”


ATV and Dirt Bikes

Recently, Columbus has seen an increase in ATV and dirt bikes being ridden through our neighborhoods, often at high speeds. These dangerous actions are being seen in cities across the country, and it’s proven to be difficult to enforce. Council, the Division of Police and the City Attorney’s office are exploring strategies to address this problem.


Uplifting Black Girls 

Recently, Council passed more than $1.1 million in legislation to support Black women and girls. The funds will support employment, leadership, enrichment, and empowerment programs for organizations such as IMPACT Community Action, The Center for Healthy Families, Image Character Etiquette Inc./Eryn PiNK, and PMM Agency. Further, OSU College of Social Work will be working with the juvenile courts to lead a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction program for Black girls aimed to promote restoration and healing that will reduce the potential for law-breaking behavior. 

“Reimagining Public Safety has to incorporate proactive measures to provide residents with the resources they need to thrive,” said Councilmember Priscilla Tyson. “Specifically, I am focusing on Black girls because we learned from the Quality of Life of Black Girls in Columbus, Ohio report that Black girls are burdened with stigmas that rob them of their girlhood; and this causes a number of adverse consequences.”

Click here to view the report.


Policing Reforms

The members of Council vehemently believe police officers can deliver high-quality service to the community and be held accountable while building trust with residents. The work to deliver a comprehensive legislative strategy in cooperation with Public Safety and the Administration that results in a Division that works for every resident is the ultimate goal.


Duty to Intervene and Requirement to Report

The responsibility of police officers to protect the public sometimes may require that they intervene in the actions of other officers, particularly if they are witness to actions that transgress the use of force policies. In the event an officer does use excessive force, other officers on the scene should be obligated to intervene and report the occurrence. A Duty to Intervene policy will give offices the additional support they need to report excessive uses of force by their peers.

“In Columbus it is important that we do all we can to protect our residents, this includes our officers being mandated to intervene during any unnecessary use of force or abuses by fellow officers,” said Councilmember Emmanuel V. Remy. “There shall be no thin line between police officers doing their job and abusing their authority.”


Use of Force

The legislation would require that all Columbus police officers exhaust all alternatives before using lethal force. This includes but is not limited to the usage of less-lethal force and de-escalation tactics. 

“Establishing trust between members of our community and our police officers is essential to public safety,” said Councilmember Shayla Favor. “I look forward to advancing policies that will ensure everyone involved in an interaction with law enforcement makes it home safely. By exhausting alternatives to lethal force and ensuring comprehensive reporting, we have the ability to create greater transparency and eliminate fear in police-involved interactions.



The militarization of police in Columbus and throughout the United States was apparent during the George Floyd protests of 2020. Public testimony and feedback to Council indicated many residents felt the response was disproportionate to the behavior of the protestors and further eroded public trust in law enforcement.  

In response, Council will enact guidelines to ensure our officers’ equipment and tactics will reinforce their role as peacekeepers. Council will advance legislation that includes prohibiting the use of control agents and specialty impact munitions against non-violent protestors.

“Too many Black and Brown families in our City do not feel protected by our police, and that is bad for all of us,” said President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown. “We must do everything we can to assure our residents that the peace officers we employ are there to keep every family in every neighborhood safe. The actions we're taking today to further demilitarize police presence are a step in that direction.”

These efforts are in addition to working with the Administration and the Department of Public Safety to immediately codify the orders from the June 2021 ruling by Judge Algenon L. Marbley, 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.


Restoring Trust

Trust between law enforcement and the community is paramount. This is especially present in minority communities where the ramifications of systemic racism, disparities in government policy and accountability continue to impact the daily interactions between residents and public safety negatively.   


Civilian Police Review Board

In 2020, City of Columbus voters approved the creation of the Civilian Police Review Board. They are charged with investigating alleged police misconduct within the City limits. Now that the Board has been set, Council, with community input, is taking additional steps to further define the policy and scope of authority.

“The task the Civilian Review Board (CRB) has in front of it is great and our City’s expectations are rightfully very high," said Councilmember Rob Dorans. "It is important that we are transparent in order to build the legitimacy and trust that we need. We are committed to engaging with the public and our partners in the City Attorney's Office, the Administration, and the members of the CRB to ensure we have the right foundation for the Board's vital work."

Council is scheduled to hold a hearing on July 6, 2021, at 5 pm on the Civilian Police Review Board. 


Diversity in the Workforce:

In a city as diverse and vibrant as Columbus, the demographics of city employees should be more reflective of our community. Engaging and educating our community on employment opportunities with the City is a start to achieving this goal. Evaluating the Civil Service process  and removing barriers that limit diversity will be a major step in having a more inclusive workforce that is better prepared to serve every resident of Columbus, especially as it relates to public safety.

Funding Healing and Transformation Grants

Throughout this process, Council has embraced the power of the people. The next phase of this engagement process is to provide grants to community organizations to support projects that provide wellness and trauma-informed conversations, educate the greater community on racial equity and build toward a more trusting relationship amongst our community members and public safety. 

“We cannot do this work in a vacuum,” said Hardin. “It is critical we lean on each other to reach all sectors of the community. There is much work to be done.”


Reimagining Public Safety is a multifaceted, comprehensive approach to push policing reform, keep neighborhoods safe and restore trust in public safety. Through extensive outreach, research, and public discourse targeting underserved communities, Council has developed a progressive and responsive change framework. Columbus, America's Opportunity City, will become the best place to live, work, play and raise a family because its leaders listen and take action on the needs of its residents.