COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Drugs, crime and questions about police use of force were all topics discussed by a dozen church, community and police officer representatives at a closed-door meeting held at Columbus’ GOP headquarters.
The group said they will be delivering recommendations to Mayor Andrew Ginther and City Council about how money can be better spent fighting crime, battling the drug epidemic and pulling back on criticizing police immediately after shootings, calling the press conferences divisive for the community.
“Columbus does not have a financial problem, it has a priority problem,” said Jeff Simpson, Vice President of the Fraternal Order Police, (FOP) Lodge 9.
The FOP told the mayor and council last August, they voted no confidence in them and the Public Safety Director Ned Pettus.
Simpson said at Monday morning’s press conference, instead of the city spending millions on investigating police brutality, the money could be better spent on hiring more officers.
“How about you use that money to put boots on the ground, and put police officers back in the schools,” Simpson said.
Pastor Jef Haygood with the Living Word Church said there is a belief in the inner city community that police are using too much force. He said one big disconnect between the inner-city community and police is the loss of liaison officers, officers he said are familiar within their community.
“We need more community policing. When police are afraid of the people they are serving and protecting there is an obvious problem there,” Said Pastor Haygood.
Kieran Cartharn said he grew up in the Linden area, was raised by his grandmother after his mother died of a drug overdose, and is now running on the Republican ticket for a seat on city council.
“I understand how they feel about police officers, but all police officers are not a threat and all black men are not a threat either,” Cartharn said.
The group met in private for one hour before meeting with the media. In attendance were Pastor Michael Young, with Christ Cathedral Church, Pastor Nikki Hampton with Greater Works, Fresh start. Others included Bishop Joel Saunders, Total Deliverance, Pastor Haygood, Pastor John Coats Metropolitan Church, Pastor Jessie McDonald, Full Gospel Church. Also in attendance were Apostle Natalie Young with the Remnant House and FOP Vice President Simpson and Cartharn. Two other candidates for office include Bob Mealy for City Auditor and Don Kline for City Attorney. Two Community Activists also in attendance were Kenny Brown and Dayzia Colflesh.
Mayor Ginther’s Spokesperson Robin Davis said they have “no comment” on this group’s recommendations.