COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Mayor Andrew Ginther accepted responsibility Friday for the decision to relieve Thomas Quinlan of duty after a little over a year on the job, and he said that the next chief of the Columbus Division of Police will come from the outside.
Quinlan stepped down Thursday after being appointed chief in December 2019 and serving as interim chief since the previous February. He is returning to the role he held previously, as a deputy chief. But Ginther said the next leader will not be anyone currently on the force, including new interim chief Mike Woods.
“I feel very strongly that we do need an outside perspective and a leader from the outside to help us change the culture at the Division of Police,” Ginther said. “I accept full and total responsibility for the chief I named previously, and I accept full responsibility for the next chief that I will name.”
The city spent $100,000 on the search when it hired Quinlan, who replaced the retired Kim Jacobs, and it has retained the same firm used before, Ralph Andersen & Associates. But Ginther said this search be “expedited” since the community outreach done then is still so recent.
“We need to make sure we have the right leader who can help us change the culture at the Division of Police and lead this division forward to better meet and exceed the community’s expectations,” he said.
Ginther said under Quinlan that the department had instituted or started on 71% of planned reforms. That includes a civilian review board that the city is in the process of forming.
“What we really need at this point — in addition to the civilian review board and all the other changes and reforms that we’ve done with respect to external oversight — is really a transformational leader that can delve in and change the culture of the Division of Police internally,” Ginther said. “I’m going to be looking for that type of strong leader with a track record of doing that in our next chief.”
Since Quinlan became permanent chief, clashes between police and protesters Downtown in May and June led to the creation of an independent committee to investigate them. Then in December, two Black men not accused of crimes — Casey Goodson Jr. and Andre’ Hill — were fatally shot by law enforcement officers in city limits.
Quinlan was demoted as his one-year probationary contract was set to expire. If he had been retained, he would have started a five-year contract next week, Ginther said.
Although he credited Quinlan with driving many of the reforms he sought from the police force, Ginther said the next chief must have a record of leading change, and he expects the opportunity will draw a qualified pool of candidates.
“I think that my vision of taking us from a 20th century law enforcement agency to a 21st century community policing organization will be very appealing to some dynamic law enforcement leaders around the country that are interested in driving that change,” he said.