COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus City Council is set to make a number of decisions that could change how the Columbus Division of Police patrols the streets.
Council is set to vote Monday on an ordinance that would “demilitarize” the city’s police force by limiting the use of certain equipment when trying to control nonviolent protesters.
This new ordinance would limit the police department’s use of tear gas, non-lethal crowd control weapons like wooden or rubber rounds, the city’s police helicopter, and other measures. The ordinance would also limit the use of armored vehicles, tactical vehicles, explosives, and tear gas launchers to members of the department’s tactical units.
The ordinance stems from a permanent injunction established in a Dec. 29, 2021 ruling in the case of Alsaada, et. al. v. City of Columbus, et. al., a case filed due to the 2020 protests in Columbus following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The ordinance allows for officers to use such weapons and tactics if officers see “actual or imminently threatened physical harm or property destruction or… criminal trespass on private property or secured government buildings/facilities, areas, or structures.”
The ordinance, sponsored by city council President Pro Tempore Elizabeth Brown, states the militarization of police in the city and across the country “undermines public trust and creates barriers to the resident-officer connections that are necessary for law enforcement to uphold the public’s safety.”
“This legislation helps our police division better embody the peacekeeping at the heart of every officer’s role and at the heart of why, I believe, most officers sign up for serving in the first place,” Brown said in a press release.
The ordinance, sponsored by Councilmember Rob Dorans, will require officers to wear their names and badge number on alternative uniforms and riot gear.
“Requiring officers to display their name and badge number will help ensure the public knows who they are engaging with when the police are called,” Dorans said in the press release. “We know that past investigations of alleged misconduct have been hampered by the lack of identification on officers’ uniforms; this legislation is a practical fix to this serious issue.”
Both ordinances state the changes come from resident feedback as well as consultation with legal, law enforcement, and civil rights experts.
Council is also set to finalize the rules for Columbus’ Civilian Police Review Board, which will be in charge of reviewing misconduct and excessive force complaints filed against Columbus officers.
The Columbus City Council will meet Monday at 5 p.m.