COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Columbus City Council approved 11 members of the Civilian Review Board Monday night.
Council voted to approve the following people to serve on the board:
- Mark Fluharty
- Janet Jackson
- Chenelle Jones
- Willard McIntosh, Jr.
- Richard Nathan
- Randall Sistrunk
- Kyle Strickland
- Rev. Charles Waddell Tatum
- Mary A. Younger
- Aaron Thomas
- Brooke Burns
Coming into Monday’s meeting, nine of the nominees were appointed by Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. City Council added two of their own — Thomas and Burns.
“These will not only better position this board to represent the community but also it will improve the boards’ compliance with the needed diversity articulated in the charter,” said City Council President Shannon Hardin.
The board is made up of faith leaders, those with backgrounds in law, a retired police officer, some who have served on the city’s safety advisory commission or the police chief’s advisory panel, and more.
“You have a high mantel to reach,” Hardin said. “The work is heavy.”
The board was constructed this past summer after Columbus residents gathered in a protest demanding police reform. Citizens voted for the review board on the Issue 2 ballot. More than 200,000 people voted for it.
The goal behind the board is to have an independent oversight arm of Columbus police.
The board will hire an inspector general who would investigate alleged officer misconduct and excessive use of force incidents.
Some of what it hopes to be able to do still need to be approved in contract negotiations with the police union.
The Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing Columbus’ officers, said previously it wants to make sure the officers are treated fairly by the board.
One of the approved members of the board, Kyle Strickland, came under fire last week for a social media post addressing the shooting death of Ma’Khia Bryant by Columbus Police officer Nicholas Reardon on April 20.
Stickland wrote, “Do not let anyone tell you to ‘wait for all the facts’ while they simultaneously frame their own narrative of what occurred.”
“What I’m saying is something deeper, which we’ve got to reckon with the humanity that life has been taken. And everyone is going to talk about each individual circumstance and situation, but family isn’t given a moment to grief without also defending their humanity of their loved one,” he said late last week in regards to the post.
Strickland was the only nominee not approved by a unanimous vote Monday.
“It’s not about like, it’s not about how I feel or how i think about somebody because I happen to like Mr. Strickland, but let me be perfectly clear: I am voting ‘no’ on his appointment,” said City Councilmember Mitchell Brown.
The FOP called Strickland’s post deeply disturbing.
Brown and fellow Councilmember Priscilla Tyson voted against Strickland’s appointment.
“Impartiality and objectivity is absolutely unequivocally imperative,” Brown said. “And if you talk about a case before or convey your feelings before you’re actually put in a position to do that, that, in my opinion, excludes you.”
“I am honored to be confirmed as a member of the city’s inaugural Civilian Review Board and hope this marks an important step toward independent civilian oversight and accountability,” Strickland said after the meeting. “I’m committed to serving with integrity, speaking hard truths, and always declaring that Black Lives Matter in a society that often denies our humanity. I am humbled by the support I have received from the community over the last few days and am eager to get to the important work of representing the people of Columbus.”
A spokesperson for Ginther’s office said it is too early to determine if the citizen review board will be able to review the Bryant shooting.