COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus City Council is hearing what residents have to say about safety in the city as part of council’s Reimagining Public Safety efforts.
Earlier this year, City Council held a series of six virtual town halls about public safety.
During each of those discussions, the public was surveyed, and those survey results were presented Tuesday.
Residents answered survey questions about other options for responses to certain types of emergency calls, violence prevention, and investing in accountability and a better division of police.
Council President Shannon Hardin said the three big takeaways from the survey results are residents want more tools in the public safety toolbox, especially for mental health and addiction; residents want more invested in crime prevention like youth programs; and residents are looking for ways they can build stronger relationships with police.
According to Hardin, there were more than 4,000 survey responses throughout the town halls, saying that is, by far, the most responses council has received when looking for feedback.
Hardin added the data did not show respondents were anti-police, but does show relationships with police need to be improved.
“The most important thing that folks need to know is that public safety, police reform, is not a one budget, one month, or one year endeavor,” he said. “This is the long run. We are in this for the long run, so what we are doing tonight is pointing out and showing what we heard from the community, almost as an invitation to stick with us.”
The findings from the 16-question online survey were shared with Council and the public include:
- When asked whether an alternative crisis response should be considered for 911, respondents strongly agree:
- 60% of respondents indicate an alternative should be used for mental health crisis calls
- 59% of respondents indicate an alternative should be used for mental health situations
- 58% of respondents indicate an alternative should be used for homeless services
- 57% of respondents indicate an alternative should be used for non-weapon relates suicide calls
- 56% of respondents indicate an alternative should be used for wellness checks
- When asked to rank their top choices when exploring different aspects and impacts of public safety:
- 81% of respondents chose getting to the root causes of violence as the top priority
- 77% of respondents selected housing, economic stability and public health
- 74% of respondents preferred replacing some police responses with trained crisis responders
- 72% of respondents say creating police/agency partnership is important
- 68% of respondents prioritized decriminalizing certain non-violent acts
Other findings indicate respondents are comfortable with law enforcement and trained professionals responding together on calls related to homelessness, human trafficking, child abuse/neglect and wellness checks.
Respondents indicate Columbus City Council should consider expanding, increasing or creating new programs:
- 63% of respondents say community-oriented policing should be expanded
- 59% of respondents say job training should be expanded
- 57% of respondents say reentry programs should be expanded
- 57% of respondents say youth initiatives should be expanded
- 54% of respondents say violence preventions programs should be expanded
The survey data will be posted later this week at www.columbus.gov/reimaginesafety.