COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus Recreation and Parks is getting some outside help when it comes to security at city pools this summer. Usually, the special duty security shifts are picked up by officers with the Columbus Division of Police. However, so far this summer, officers have not been covering many of those shifts.
“They are human beings and they’ve been impacted just like the rest of the residents in the community and that reduced our available resources in addition to the greater demand,” said Ned Pettus, Columbus Director of Public Safety.
Numbers from the Division of Police and Recreation and Parks show from May 25 through June 20, 24 of the 187 pool security shifts have been filled by Columbus police officers — about 13 percent.
There are now incentives in place to increase participation.
Pettus said the numbers are down because of the pandemic, high levels of violence, and the protests.
“This is an unprecedented environment we haven’t seen in our lifetimes, and it has impacted public safety as well and so our available resources are less than what they have been in the past while the demands are greater,” he said.
Some of the shifts this summer have been covered by security companies contracted by the city, according to Recreation and Parks. The department is preparing in case that need continues. Recreation and Parks requested an additional $100,000 to contract with other companies to provide security at the pools.
“The last thing we want is to be stuck with no security whatsoever,” said Amanda Wampler, interim community relations chief with Recreation and Parks.
Columbus City Council approved the additional funding Monday. The security needs of Recreation and Parks exceed the number of CPD officers available, according to the ordinance.
Wampler said the additional funding will allow the department to continue to fill the gaps with private security.
“This is nothing new for us to have security at our pools,” she said. “We know right now tensions are high and there is a higher need, but we’ve always had security at our pools. The only difference this year is, generally, it goes through police, and this year, we’re using private security just as a backup when needed to fill in. Just trying to be proactive instead of reactive.”