COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus City Council is no longer opposing the Division of Police’s June recruit class.
Council previously proposed moving $2.5 million that Mayor Andrew Ginther and the city’s Department of Public Safety said would have effectively canceled that class.
Council is no longer going in that direction, though.
Council members voiced mixed feelings about the move, but when it comes down to it, Council President Shannon Hardin said he doesn’t want the rest of the city’s budget held up by the issue.
Council was set to vote on a budget Monday that would have moved $2.5 million dollars that was going to fund the June police class.
Instead, Council President Shannon Hardin introduced an amendment that would no longer do that, meaning there will be money for the police class.
Leadership at the Columbus Division of Police warned if council had gone forward with the previous version of the budget, it would have put the division three steps back.
Ginther also wanted the city to move forward with the next recruitment class.
Hardin previously said he wanted the class delayed until an audit of the hiring process was completed. The audit is part of the city’s attempt at diversifying the police force to more represent the community they serve.
Hardin added that over the weekend, he hit an impasse with the mayor and other city council members and that he didn’t want to let $2.5 million hold up a $970 million budget that also includes COVID-19 relief and other efforts to reimagine safety.
“To let the full budget move forward, we are proposing an amendment from the floor,” Hardin said during Monday’s meeting. “It creates reimagining safety fund as before, but no longer takes the funds from the Division of Police. This means council will not oppose the June police recruit class. I’m not willing to sink the entire budget over this effort.”
If the budget passes next week, the $2.5 million will go toward funding the June police recruitment class.
While Council unanimously passed the amendment, there were members who shared their frustration.
City Councilmember Shayla Favor said she was disappointed the city was continuing with the next recruiting class and she will continue her push for police reform.
“By committing to the full process of re-assessing our hiring and training process, we help ensure the next round of candidates is fully aware of our expectations and of the community’s expectations,” Favor said. “My commitment to police reform is not over. I understand the importance of passing this budget for 2021 but I will continue my efforts to seek the real change we all want to see.”
City Councilmember Elizabeth Brown said she supported the amendment.
“There are critical resources to get onto the streets of Columbus, whether that’s violence intervention efforts, whether it’s direct aid to families during a pandemic, there are critical things this budget funds and we can’t hold it up, which is why I intend to support the amendment tonight, but I’m really disappointed we’re in this position and I am committed to doing more over the months and years ahead to make sure the Division of Police truly serves everyone and that the only solution to violence in our community is not defined as the ratio of officers to number of people,” she said. “There are more things we can be doing.”
In a statement, Ginther said:
“I am encouraged by Council’s support for an unprecedented investment in anti-violence initiatives and alternative response to crime, and to maintaining the number of officers on the street while increasing the diversity of the Division. I look forward to Council’s passage of the budget next week so we can advance the important work of police reform, while keeping our neighborhoods safe and leading our city to an equitable post-COVID recovery. We have important work to do, and there is no time to waste.”Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther