COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The city of Columbus is one step closer to having its first Inspector General. The Inspector General and its team will be responsible for investigating claims of police misconduct and presenting findings to Columbus’ Civilian Police Review Board. There were 29 applicants for the Inspector General position. There was a virtual town hall with the four finalists on Thursday night.
“Although my experience is not necessarily through an office of an inspector general or any type of law enforcement office, what I am looking at is the same exact facts, I’m looking at it without any bias,” said Rena Shak, the only finalist who currently lives in Columbus.
Shak is a former candidate for Franklin County Municipal Court Judge and is currently an attorney for the public defender’s office. Columbus’ first Civilian Review Board has met six times since August. It will decide on who the Inspector General will be, according to the mayor’s office.
“We have to be independent and objective and unbiased and that is a standard we have to comply with,” said Davis Harper during Thursday’s town hall.
Harper is another finalist. He’s currently the Inspector General for Florida’s Department of Financial Services and used to be the Inspector General For the city of Albuquerque. The other two finalists are Pamela Davis and Jacqueline Hendricks-Moore.
“I understand the challenges because we’re doing it right now. I have the experience on both sides of the badge. I have the experience as a law enforcement officer, also on the other side,” said Hendricks-Moore.
Hendricks-Moore is the senior investigator for Detroit’s Office of Inspector General and used to be a police sergeant. Davis used to be the Chief investigator for the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners. She also has experience in law enforcement. Since both are from Detroit, they were asked if they had any relationship with Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant who came here from Detroit. Hendricks-Moore said no. Davis said Bryant worked in the same department as her for about six months.
“We have a mutual respect for each other, but we’re not bosom buddies. One of the things she will tell you is that I have the highest of respect for her but most importantly I have high ethics,” said Davis.
The members of the Civilian Review Board are volunteers. The Inspector General and its team will be paid. The city’s 2022 proposed budget allocates about $1 million for the Department of Inspector General with about $929,000 going towards personnel. The department will have 10 employees, according to the budget.
It will likely be quite some time before the department starts investigating cases and sharing findings with the Civilian Review Board. There is no official timeline on when the board will decide on an Inspector General but the mayor’s office says a decision will likely be made by the end of February. Then the Inspector General will need to figure out who will be in the department, and they will need to be trained.