COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus City Council approved a measure Monday to place the issue of a civilian review board for the Columbus Police Department on the November ballot.
Council approved the ordinance that will call on voters to decide if the city charter should be changed to allow for a civilian review board. The ordinance calls for the issue to be put on the November ballot.
A civilian review board was one of the recommendations of the Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission presented to Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther in January. Columbus is one of a handful of the largest cities in the U.S. without some kind of civilian oversight of police.
Council members said they hope this helps build the trust that the public has lost in the Columbus Police department.
Council also approved other police reform measures Monday as well, including proposals that would call for more requirements for police to conduct a no-knock warrant (the proposal does not ban them); create a policy that does not allow officers to serve if they are affiliated with any hate groups.
A fourth proposal for the demilitarization of the police department was not initially on Monday’s agenda, but was introduced at the meeting. Council voted to waive a second reading of the ordinance and passed it with a unanimous vote.
According to Hardin, the demilitarization ordinance is based on former President Barack Obama’s 21st Century Policing Report and includes types of weaponry council does not think police need.
The changes are part of what Council is calling the Reimagine Safety initiative. After Council’s August break, it will reconvene to begin a community engagement process as part of the initiative as the city heads into next year’s budget.
“My main focus remains the safety of the residents of the City of Columbus,” said Councilmember Mitchell J. Brown said. “While I steadfastly support Chief Thomas Quinlan and the members of the Columbus Division of Police, I believe the legislation passed this evening creates necessary policies and structures to increase officer accountability and community trust.”
Several prominent organizations within Columbus, including the NAACP and the Columbus Citizens for Police Review, have called for a civilian review board.
Ginther has come under criticism from the leadership of the Columbus Police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, for not engaging the FOP in discussions of a civilian review board.
In a statement released last week, FOP President Keith Ferrell issued a statement that read, in part:
“The FOP is committed to meaningful change and would welcome the opportunity to work with anyone in the city to ensure our 4,300 law enforcement officers are the model for the nation. The FOP has never received a citizen review board proposal from the Mayor during these times. We look forward to that dialogue and leadership.
It is unfortunate that Mayor Ginther feels the need to waste tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars or their time on a charter amendment. We welcome dialogue and to use the collective bargaining process to move forward for everyone, but Mayor Ginther is not out to compromise. Mayor Ginther is out to attack collective bargaining rights, plain and simple.Keith Ferrell, FOP President
Ferrell was asked Monday night for a statement. He said the FOP will issue a statement Tuesday.