COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — More than 100 faith leaders will deliver a petition to the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to call for an investigation of the Columbus Division of Police.
Several of the faith leaders discussed the petition one week after Mayor Andrew Ginther announced the DOJ would review the division.
“I believe a review suggests doing something in theory but not enough in reality,” said Senior Pastor Jefferey Kee from the Lutheran Baptist Church.
Kee is one of the 107 faith leaders who signed the petition, which reads in part:
Black and brown people in Columbus, Ohio have been profiled and killed by Columbus police officers at alarming rates for the past several decades.
We are asking that the United States Department of Justice investigate the hiring process, discipline, Fraternal Order of Police union contracts, allegations from police inside the division who have experienced racial injustice, and police aggression along with the killings they have committed.Local faith leaders petition to the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
The faith leaders are calling for a pattern-or-practice investigation.
“Those investigations allow the department to determine whether a police department has a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in April while delivering remarks.
Kee explained why he believes an investigation is necessary.
“We have a new police chief, a new safety director,” he said. “We need a new police department and we need the DOJ to come in and help us to catapult getting some more equality and justice for all citizens in our community.”
On Thursday, Mayor Ginther said the city has enacted meaningful police reform.
“We invited the U.S. Department of Justice to review our reform efforts and assess the operations of CPD, including conducting a patterns and practice investigation if they deem necessary,” Ginther wrote in a statement. “We welcome the DOJ engagement and will work with the DOJ in whatever capacity they choose, but our first focus will be about delivering results and bringing about real change and policing reform.”
The executive vice president for the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge #9 said no one was available for comment on Thursday. Messages left for the DOJ were not returned.