COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The new security detail for the Columbus City Council is under question following a grievance filed with the police union.
The Columbus Division of Police in October added three officers to its Executive Protection Unit, which provides security detail to the Mayor and Chief of Police. The three new officers were assigned to protect members of the city council.
“We know that the world is changing. And as folks who have come down to city council have seen, council has already had security at council meetings,” said Council President Shannon Hardin following the Oct. 30 council meeting. “But we are out at events, we have been town halls, we are out in the community. And this is as much about keeping our community safe as it is about keeping council members safe.”
NBC4 Investigates emailed 35 of the largest U.S.cities to see if members of their city council receive special protection.
Of the 26 cities that responded – including Los Angeles, Dallas and Philadelphia – none said they provide security detail for rank-and-file city council members outside of council meetings. New York City, Detroit and Cleveland provide security detail for the top-ranking member of their respective councils.
The City of Las Vegas wouldn’t comment on security procedures; a spokesman for the City of Tampa called the notion of security detail for a city council “insane.”
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9 Executive Vice President Brian Steel confirmed this week that a grievance was filed regarding the expansion of the Executive Protection Unit. In an email, Steel said that job assignments longer than 60 days have to be negotiated through the union. The union is just beginning the grievance process, which Steel said could take two weeks to a year.
The Department of Public Safety later clarified that the three officers added to the executive protection unit are on a 60-day temporary assignment and that the department is exploring options to make the assignments permanent.
A department spokesman also said Miami and San Diego do provide dedicated security for city council. Those two cities were among the nine that did not respond to NBC4’s inquiry.
“Priority one for the division is safety for all members of our community. Our leadership and frontline supervisors work daily to ensure our officers are where they need to be to achieve this. This does not change that,” said a police spokesperson.