COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–The City of Columbus’ growing bill with a law firm hired to investigate the use of force allegations against Columbus police officers has grown to more than 12 times the amount of the firm’s original contract.
NBC4 Investigates has learned from the Columbus Department of Public Safety that the cost of the ongoing investigation conducted by BakerHostetler now stands at $615,064.89. This exceeds the city’s current contract with the firm for costs not to exceed $550,000.
BakerHostetler is currently looking into the use of force allegations from the public against police officers tied to protests last summer, to see whether any officers violated department policy. NBC4 Investigates reported in March the firm’s findings that have been released so far.
The city first entered into a $50,000 contract with BakerHostetler in June to conduct the investigation. In July, the contract was increased to $550,000.
NBC4 Investigates reached out to BakerHostetler on Friday, which deferred comment to the city.
“We have a deficit in community trust in police. We will spend what is necessary to restore it,” said Mayor Andrew Ginther’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Robin Davis.
Glenn McEntyre, assistant director of the Department of Public Safety, said there is the potential for additional use of force investigations from BakerHostetler, following the findings of ongoing criminal investigations conducted by Special Prosecutor Kathleen Garber and retired FBI Agent Rick Wozniak.
The Columbus City Council voted this week to increase Garber’s contract from $30,000 to $80,000 to continue her work. She told NBC4 Investigates the investigation was taking longer than she had expected because officers were not participating in witness interviews.
Brian Steel, Vice President of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge 9, said officers’ lawyers are advising them not to participate in those interviews out of concerns of self-incrimination. In an interview with NBC4 Investigates Wednesday, Steel said he felt the administrative and criminal investigations were unnecessary because Internal Affairs is equipped to handle investigations into officers.