COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — An arbitrator has ruled that the city must stop using an outside law firm to investigate its police force.

The ruling came Thursday from Margaret Johnson after the union for Columbus police officers complained that the city using BakerHostetler to investigate police misconduct during protests Downtown in the summer of 2020 violated the contract between them.

“[The contract] precludes the subcontracting of law enforcement duties,” Johnson’s decision read. “Since internal investigations are law enforcement duties, the use of an Independent Contractor to investigate Police Officers was in violation.”

Mayor Andrew Ginther said the city will appeal the decision.

“Because the protests were an ‘all hands on deck’ event, the great majority of Internal Affairs personnel were actively involved in the division’s protest response,” Ginther said in a statement. “Neither Internal Affairs nor the Safety Director’s Office had the capacity to investigate the more than 1,000 complaints.”

Because of the number of complaints, solicited online in the weeks after the protests, Ginther said outside help was necessary since the police contract requires that investigations be completed within 90 days. BakerHostetler is a law firm with offices Downtown.

Ginther also quoted a federal judge’s decision that Columbus police “ran amok” during the protests when he issued a preliminary injunction in an excessive force lawsuit.

Despite the high number of complaints, only three officers were disciplined as a result of the investigation. The cost, which was originally budgeted at $50,000 eventually cost the city over $600,000.

You can read Johnson’s decision by following this link.