Columbus City Council considers police reform legislation


COLUMBUS (WCMH)–Columbus City Council has announced a package of legislative proposals on police reform.

President Shannon Hardin said Council will vote before the end of July on the proposals that include authorizing independent investigations into police use of lethal force, limiting or banning no-knock raids, demilitarizing the police, and instituting background checks on police officers and recruits for any hate-group affiliation.

“As a Black man helping to raise a young Black man, we need radical changes to our institutions of public safety and our understanding of public safety,” Hardin said.

Public hearings on the proposals will be held in the coming weeks. In a news release from Council, the legislative proposals were described as the following:

No-Knock and Quick-Knock Raids
No-knock warrants permit entry into a business or residence without first knocking or identifying oneself as a police officer. No-knock raids are considered dangerous and unnecessary by many academics and advocacy organizations. Council will hold hearings to determine Columbus Division of Police’ current usage of no-knock and quick-knock raids and advance legislation based on findings.

Expand Background Checks for Police to include Hate-Group Affiliation
Council will pursue the expansion of background checks to include hate group affiliations. A resident submitted this concept. Council will elevate this conversation by holding a public hearing on this idea and advancing legislation.

Demilitarize the Police
Council will vote to destroy weapons identified in the Obama Administration’s prohibited weapons list and review items on the controlled list, such as Humvees and batons, to determine further action. Council will hold a hearing on this topic on June 30 at 4 pm.

Independent Investigations
The Community Safety Advisory Commission advanced multiple accountability measures in their list of recommendations. The items include creating a Civilian Review Board and a City-funded, operationally-independent, professionally-staffed, public entity empowered to participate fully in criminal or administrative investigations involving CDP personnel. As a stop-gap measure, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther formalized an agreement to allow the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) to investigate the Columbus Division of Police’s use of lethal force. However, legislative action is required to advance the implementation of the Community Safety Advisory Commission’s recommendations.

“We don’t need another study, commission or panel to tell us that we need to reshape the way we investigate the use of force by officers,” said Councilmember Rob Dorans. “We’ve heard it loud and clear from our residents. Now it is time for legislative action to create independent investigation to restore the trust and confidence that I know is felt by so many.”

Council members say they plan to engage the public this fall in a community process to reimagine public safety ahead of the 2021 operating budget.

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