COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus city leaders are moving one step closer to the eventual selection of a new police chief.
A meeting was held Tuesday night where the community offered feedback on what qualities they want to see in a police chief.
The community outreach allows the people of Columbus to express exactly what the new police chief here should bring to the table to lead the officers in this building.
This is all part of the process to select the next police chief here.. it’s a process Mayor Andrew Ginther says he won’t rush.
“It is far more important for me and for us to get this right as supposed to getting it done fast,” said Mayor Ginther.
The Chief and Me public forum is designed to get community input on the selection leader of the Columbus Division of Police.
It’s a department some here say they fear.
“I came because I’m scared for my fellow people,” said Columbus resident Brandie Williams. “I think that the police a very bad reputation at this point and it’s deserved.”
Williams said her fear comes from her belief that Columbus officers do not know how to properly deescalate a situation which leads to what she calls excessive force.
She wants the new chief to find a way to test if an officer truly understands how to apply what he learned.
“It’s not enough to have lip service and to complete you know a two hour course and say, ‘oh now I know how to deescalate,'” said Williams.
Others here ask for better mental health evaluations of police officers, a better understanding of the city’s diversity, and also more community interaction rather than community policing.
“One of the group members said they would like to see police athletic league come back and I think that would be a great way to get the police back engaged with the community,” said Gregory Lee.
Will these concerns make a difference in who Mayor Ginther selects? The crowd here is split.
“I think you have to believe in the system, otherwise you’re not going to get anywhere,” said Lee.
Kurt Looper from Columbus said, “I just know that yes we were heard. I’m not sure how much way we will really have with regard to how a chief is going to be selected.”
The next Chief and Me-Community Engagement Forum in June 27, at St. Stephen’s Community House, 1500 East 17th Avenue.
The plan is to have the next police chief selected at the end of this year or the beginning of 2020.