COLUMBUS (WCMH) — There’s a new twist in the public relations battle between Columbus City Hall and the police union.
The Fraternal Order of Police, Capital City Lodge #9 has started a billboard campaign with rotating messages on an electronic billboard along I-270 just north of Broad St. to stress that police officers will support the community and that the community’s support is encouraged in return.
“We want the citizens to know that we have their back,” said Jeff Simpson, Executive Vice President of the union. “We’ll always support their safety. We’ll always work hard to keep them safe. And in turn if they’d like to show their support, shoot us an email back at info@FOP9.org.
The billboard campaign comes as Mayor Andrew Ginther has delivered some blistering criticism of the union. The mayor says the union has a history of resisting reforms and of protecting bad cops from serious discipline.
Robin Davis, spokesperson for Ginther issued the following statement:
If FOP leadership truly had the community’s back as they claim in their billboards, they should show that by standing with the community in the creation of a civilian review board with true oversight, and independent investigations for police to be held accountable by the people they serve.
Mayor Ginther is committed to moving forward with the agenda of the people for police reform.-Robin Davis, Mayor Spokesperson
The mayor has said there is overwhelming community support for police reform and for a civilian review board in particular.
The FOP has not said it is necessarily opposed to a civilian review board but says there has always been a silent majority of people in the community who support the police.
“I don’t buy into the mayors false narrative that there’s this negativity with the police with the level that he’s saying it is,” Simpson said. “Basically this billboard is facilitated by overwhelming community support so we are facilitating that community support to give them a mechanism so we can hear from them.”