Columbus Police honors Chief Jacobs with final walk-out; Quinlan to take the helm

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Just after 9 a.m. Friday, Deputy Chief Thomas Quinlan was sworn in as the interim police chief of the Columbus Police Division and several others within the department were promoted.

Just before Quinlan raised his right hand to recite his oath in front of family, friends, and colleagues, Chief Kim Jacobs shook his hand and turned her badge over to the person who would be pinning it to Quinlan’s chest.

For Jacobs, it has been nearly 40 years of service with the Columbus Police Department. She started in October 1979, one of the first women patrol officers.

Speaking to newly promoted sergeants Friday morning, she reminded them there are no lowly patrol officers and that now is the time to step up.

“You’ve all been there, you’ve all done that, you know exactly how important our patrol officers are, and now you’re gonna go supervise them. This is the most important role in the division of police,” said Jacobs. “That will matter to not only those individuals you’ll be supervising but to every community member as well.”

Jacobs wished the newly promoted officers well and left them with a final bit of advice.

“Have fun, enjoy it, right? But always keep in mind who you’re working for — them,” said Jacobs.

A few hours later the lobby of the Columbus police headquarters was packed with people.

As the elevator reached the ground floor and its doors opened, a staccato drumming began as the wail of bagpipes filled the space.

Stepping out of the elevator, Jacobs was met by officers standing at attention in salute to her.

She made her way toward the exit and waved farewell to some, embraced others with her wife by her side.

As she left the building a vehicle was waiting to escort her home, but before they went there Jacobs made one final stop.

The motorcade pulled up alongside the Columbus Police Memorial as it crossed the Olentangy River.

Jacobs approached the memorial alone, two officers standing at attention and saluting.

She spent a moment reflecting, before taking a small American flag and posting it near the memorial.

She then pressed her hands together and said a silent prayer, before saluting the memorial itself and returning to the car.

With that, Kim Jacobs time as the chief of police for the Columbus Police Department came to an end.

On Monday, Quinlan will walk into the building with plans of his own.

Friday morning, after being sworn in he said he was starting to realize the weight of responsibility the position carried.

“There’s 2,300 people in the division of police that now you have to be responsible for above your own needs, above your own interests. Their needs will always come first,” said Quinlan.

He told us he wants to address a number of things.

First and foremost, he wants to prevent and deter crime through things like the safe streets program – and by saturating areas that need the officers the most.

He also wants to work on an officer wellness program, but the first thing he plans to do is structural.

“I want to start working on creating a watch commander position, basically where there is always somebody on duty in the division of police that has the ultimate authority,” said Quinlan.

Quinlan takes over the department amidst an FBI investigation into the vice unit, among other issues, and promises things will be cleared up.

“If there’s anything that we need to address we’re gonna take care of it. We will fix it and we will make it better,” said Quinlan. “But for the rank and file, for the officers out there on the street doing this every day, need to hold your head up high and be proud of what they do because they do an incredible job.”

He also warns he will aggressively go after disciplining those that step out of line.

“If they do something that’s out of sorts with our expectations and our core values they’re gonna pay a heavy price,” said Quinlan.

Quinlan was a deputy chief under Jacobs for about five years and praised her work as chief of police saying he watched her make difficult decisions that were not going to be popular but were the right thing to do. 

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