COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – It’s been two years since protests about policing and racial injustice broke out across the country, including in central Ohio.

On Tuesday, the Columbus Division of Police unveiled a closer look at one of the department’s new efforts in response to those protests: a “dialogue team.”

“What we want citizens to do is to give us an opportunity, come talk to us, come work with us,” said Columbus Police Sgt. Frederick Brophy.

The department said the dialogue officers will be focused on engagement and not investigation.

“There’s an impartiality to the dialogue officers,” Brophy said. “Dialogue officers are not expected to gather intelligence. They’re not there to do criminal investigations. What they’re there to do is to be an impartial vehicle through which citizens can communicate with the leadership in the division so that situations don’t escalate and get out of control.”

The division said it started looking into the idea in the aftermath of the 2020 summer protests in case similar protests happen in the future.

After a year and a half of research, members of the division traveled to Europe in February to learn from one of the world’s top policing experts, watching dialogue teams there deal with protestors.

“These protest groups actually, when this dialogue officer is implemented, is they reach out to the dialogue officers before events,” Brophy said. “They say hey, because the dialogue officers assured them, they have a better outcome and result by working with the police department. So, it’s not us versus them. It’s us and them and that’s our goal.”

The department is still finalizing the number of dialogue officers it will staff. The program will be monitored for success and retooled or expanded as needed.