Columbus council: New police contract ‘not perfect,’ will allow independent investigations into officer misconduct

Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Monday was a long and busy night at Columbus City Hall, with City Council having a lot to vote on before going on summer recess.

One of those things was the new contract with the Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing the city’s police department.

Before approving the contract, however, there was a long discussion about it, including some members of the public speaking up.

The common theme from council members was that the contract isn’t perfect, but it’s better than not approving it.

Council unanimously approved the contract, with several council members expressing similar sentiments about the agreement.

“This is not a perfect contract by any means,” said Councilmember Shayla Favor.

“As all have acknowledged, it’s not a perfect deal,” said Council President Pro Tempore Elizabeth Brown.

“Whenever you go into negotiation, you don’t get everything you want,” said Council President Shannon Hardin. “This contract is not perfect, that we’re voting on tonight, but I would say it is better.”

The contract allows for Columbus’ new inspector general to conduct independent non-criminal investigations of police with the understanding officers have to participate or they could face punishment.

It also allows the city’s new civilian review board to review cases and recommend discipline.

According to the city’s chief negotiator, Ron Linville, that oversight would have had to wait if the contract was not approved Monday, a process he said would have taken more than a year.

“We have an opportunity to up or down, strike down the contract or accept it, and if we strike it down, we are waiting that much longer for residents to have recourse,” Brown said.

The contract includes an early retirement incentive of $200,000 for up to 100 officers who have been on the force for more than 25 years and a 14% raise for officers over three years.

Two residents, including Lena Tenney, spoke against the contract, saying they were hurt by officers while peacefully protesting and obeying orders during the demonstrations after George Floyd’s death.

“The appearance that passing this contract gives to residents like me who have been brutalized by CDP is that they are getting double-digit raises and triple-digit buyouts after spending the last year and a half terrorizing us and that’s just not right,” Tenney said.

Linville called negotiations on the new contract were the most intense and difficult he has ever taken part in.

The FOP said it would comment on the contract Tuesday.

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