Columbus, police union approve 3-year contract

Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The City of Columbus and the Fraternal Order of Police have approved a 3-year contract agreement.

The city has been rolling out its reimagining public safety campaign for more than a year now, and to get the FOP on board with that vision, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said the city had to pay up.

“This is the most progressive contract in a generation,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “Through good-faith collective bargaining since late last year, we crafted a contract that provides an incentive for longtime officers to retire, rewards officers committed to service, change, and reform, and attracts new, more diverse candidates to join our efforts to reform policing in Columbus.”

As part of the agreement, officers will see a 14 percent pay increase over three years, which means a new Columbus Police officer will make more than $100,000 after those three years.

In return, the city’s new inspector general of police and civilian review board will have the power to conduct independent investigations.

The new contract was approved by the FOP Saturday night, and Columbus City Council approved it during its Monday meeting.

The city is also offering officers on the force for more than 25 years an early retirement incentive for up to 100 officers. Those who take the incentive will receive a check for $200,000.

Ginther said this is a way for the city to bring in new officers with new ideas who are committed to the city’s new vision of policing while also taking care of veteran officers.

“We offer an opportunity to officers who may not be eligible for retirement yet but may not be committed to the change and reform we seek to make, to give them an opportunity to move on, maybe police in other places,” Ginther said. “But if you’re going to police in the City of Columbus, you have to buy into the vision and leadership of Chief Bryant around change and reform.”

The city highlighted additional provisions of the new contract.

  • Changes body worn camera policy to ensure video and audio evidence is available, whether the body worn camera is activated or not and allows the Director of Public Safety to order review of audio and video recordings up to 14 hours prior to a critical incident, limited only by camera capabilities/technology
  • Allows for post-incident drug testing following any police involved shooting or discharge of firearm
  • Restricts the use of personal leave in lieu of suspension 
  • Extends the time suspensions are maintained in disciplinary file
  • Enhances oversight of police recruit training by allowing the police chief to assign an officer – regardless of seniority – to oversee training for each recruit class
  • Improves police training and ensures officer preparedness by extending the probationary period for recruits

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin, who voted to approve the contract, released a statement Monday, which reads in part:

The contract they negotiated with the Administration allows for the full implementation of the Civilian Police Review Board, requires officers to take drug tests after shootings or deadly uses of force, and includes many improvements for accountability. This contract isn’t perfect, but it is an improvement from the status quo.

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin

The FOP said it will not release a statement on the new contract until Tuesday.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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