Council Honors Retiring Columbus Police Chief with Cultural Understanding and Training Fund
Councilmember Mitchell J. Brown presents a resolution to Columbus Division of Police Chief Kimberley Jacobs for 39 years of service during the February 4, 2019, Columbus City Council meeting.
[COLUMBUS, OH] Columbus City Council honors retiring Columbus Division of Police Chief Kimberley K. Jacobs’ 39 years of service with the creation of the Kimberley K. Jacobs Fund for Learning, Cultural Understanding and Engagement Fund. The fund will continue the transformative training program called “Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons of the Holocaust.” It asks officers to be introspective and explore the humanity of people through the historical lens of World War II and the Civil Rights movement to help remove the public’s perceived armor associated with the badge.
The three-day, immersive program takes 55 officers on a journey to Washington, D.C that includes educational tours of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, film and classroom study.
“We don’t want this program to end with Chief Jacobs,” said Councilmember Mitchell Brown. “Chief Kimberley Jacobs embodies the core values of the Columbus Division of Police - Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Discipline and Enthusiasm. The objective of this fund is to support a program she developed that empowers officers to become trusted stewards of the community. This is a testament to her commitment to service and excellence.”
Columbus City Council is partnering with AEP, Columbia Gas of Ohio and LBrands to establish the fund. Council will appropriate $50,000 into the fund to be administered through the Columbus Foundation and the Columbus Police Foundation.
“It was an eye-opener, and I believe that we became more aware of ourselves. I can’t control how the entire world sees me as an officer, but I can control how I interact with the world.” - Sergeant Charles Waldenga.
Five years ago, Chief Jacobs implemented a training program unlike any other to help officers understand the root causes of today’s fractured police-community relations.
The first class of 55 officers journeyed to Washington D.C. for an immersive two-day experience. In 2017, the program was extended to three days to add the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“This has been transformative and introspective,” said Sergeant Charles Waldenga. “For three days, we had intensive discussions on the role police played during the Holocaust and Civil Rights Movement. We talked with our fellow officers across ranks, ethnicity, gender, assignments and ages. We gained perspective on how and why police are perceived negatively in certain communities. There is history here.”
Over the last five years, over 250 Columbus Division of Police officers has traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“Throughout the trip, we watched documentaries such as, ‘The Last Days,’ by Steven Spielberg and talked. Our discussions focused on human rights, individual responsibility and maintaining our core values,” Waldenga continued.
By studying the role of the police during these time periods, Chief Jacobs implored her officers to recognize their role and responsibility in protecting the constitutional rights, humanity and dignity of every resident. Furthermore, she asked them to think about the generational impact and consequences of cultural and ethnic bias in law enforcement.
“It was an eye-opener, and I believe that we became more aware of ourselves. I can’t control how the entire world sees me as an officer, but I can control how I interact with the world,” Waldenga continued.
The Columbus Division of Police selects a variety of participants. Officers apply and are selected across rank and years of seniority. The goal is to expose them to different people who may not know each other.
“This was Chief Jacobs’ idea. She designed these trips to be an opportunity for police officers to absorb the gravity of the civil rights and human rights atrocities that were allowed and/or facilitated by police officers in other countries and within our own borders and to take responsibility for preventing similar incidents in the future,” said Jennifer Edwards, Columbus Police Foundation Board President.
“Chief Jacobs believes in Columbus and that the community deserves a police agency that continues to look for progressive ways to educate its personnel about democracy and ethical behavior and to inspire them to be model officers,” she continued.