Council to Vote on Two Police Reform Measures Monday
COLUMBUS,OH --- President Pro Tempore Elizabeth Brown and Councilmember Rob Dorans are sponsoring a pair of reforms oriented toward improving transparency and trust in policing. The ordinances address key concerns originally brought forward by members of the public and codify widely accepted best practices that foster public trust and were also underscored recently by the permanent injunction from Judge Algenon Marbley.
Ordinance 1455-2022 sponsored by Councilmember Rob Dorans, will mandate the placement of officer names and badge numbers to alternative uniforms and riot gear, as well as reaffirm current police directives to ensure officers are clearly identifiable while on duty. This is in response to numerous complaints regarding police misconduct during protest events. Current investigations into many of these incidents have proven difficult given the inability to identify parties involved.
"We know that to build trust between the community and our police officers transparency and accountability must be at the forefront of public safety. Requiring officers to display their name and badge number will help ensure the public knows who they are engaging with when the police are called. We know that past investigations of alleged misconduct have been hampered by the lack of identification on officers' uniforms; this legislation is a practical fix to this serious issue." said Dorans. "I also truly believe that this legislation is a benefit to officers as well, moving forward there will be no potential for an officer to be misidentified and wrongfully accused of misconduct because of lack of identification."
Ordinance 1440-2022, sponsored by President Pro Tempore Elizabeth Brown, creates restrictions upon military-style equipment and tactics used by the Division of Police. Historically, federal partnerships have placed military equipment into the hands of local law enforcement and encouraged the militarization of police forces over time. However, this militarization undermines public trust and creates barriers to the resident-officer connections that are necessary for law enforcement to uphold the public’s safety, making it inconsistent with officers’ mission to protect and serve. The legislation builds upon ordinance 1500-2020, which banned certain equipment that has no suitable use by Columbus police officers, namely riot batons and camouflage uniforms. Ordinance 1440-2022 instead focuses on restricting, rather than banning, the use of equipment such as chemical agents, helicopters, and explosives and pyrotechnics. Avoiding the misuse or overuse of such equipment not only prevents harm to residents but supports the legitimacy of the Division in their eyes.
“This legislation helps our police division better embody the peacekeeping at the heart of every officer’s role and at the heart of why, I believe, most officers sign up for serving in the first place,” said President Pro Tem Brown. “It captures the feedback of residents and law enforcement alike and establishes parameters that will support the kinds of interactions that build trust between them,” she continued.
Resident feedback has underscored the fact that the public’s trust in law enforcement is closely linked to the tactics and equipment they use, whether during First Amendment demonstrations or in neighborhoods across Columbus every day. Therefore, the ordinance also codifies the permanent injunction from Judge Algenon Marbley relating to the summer 2020 protests, reaffirming the right to non-violent protest and revamping the Division’s approach to managing mass demonstrations.
"Across our city and spanning nearly every point of view, we are all in search of safe communities for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors,” said President Pro Tem Brown.
The two ordinances come alongside several new programs and policies to modernize police functions and decrease violence. Now, these two pieces of legislation will push that mission forward with new avenues for improving transparency and building trust with the community.
Both ordinances will be voted on at the next City Council meeting, Monday, June 6.