Columbus faith leaders are calling on the city’s top leaders to make immediate changes within the Columbus Division of Police on alleged racial discrimination.
The faith leaders have a list of seven demands. They are asking the department to improve working conditions for minority police officers and improve intersections between the community and the police.
“There is a stench flowing out of the police department where African-American officers, male and female, file complaints,” said a faith leader.
Nearly 30 clergy members from different faiths gathered on the steps of City Hall to demand change on behalf of minority Columbus police officers.
“There are seven internal officers claiming discrimination against their own employer,” said Pastor Jeffery P. Kee of New Faith Baptist Church.
Over the last couple of months, officers have come to them asking faith leaders to help fix the alleged racial injustice and discrimination within the department, the group said.
“There is a culture within the Columbus police department that if you say something against what we are doing there will be retaliation,” Kee said.
Faith leaders presented Mayor Ginther’s office with an 11-page document that provided examples of discrimination against minority officers. It also points to officers whose cases were not properly handled after an incident.
Kee spoke of the 2016 fatal shooting of 13-year-old Tyre King by a Columbus police officer.
“Engaged in four shootings, two where fatal. In addition, there has been 50 to 60 complaints against this person,” he said.
Mayor Ginther released a statement on Facebook after receiving the group’s list of demands.
“A group of Columbus-based faith leaders met on the steps of City Hall this morning to advocate for changes within the Division of Police. We share their values. We all want a safe community for our families, our neighbors and our first responders,” Ginther said.
Ginther continued: “When I rolled out the Comprehensive Neighborhood Safety Strategy last year, I included the creation of the Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission to review Columbus Police training, policies and procedures. As part of their work, we have hired a first-rate independent third-party consultant to review practices and assist the Commission with their recommendations to me.”
“We look forward to continued conversations with these faith leaders to address their expectations,” he said.
The group says they would like to meet with the mayor within 30 days.