COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The union representing Columbus police officers says Mayor Andrew Ginther has lost all credibility when it comes to reforms to policing.
FOP Capital City Lodge #9 Executive Vice President Jeff Simpson addressed reporters Thursday afternoon.
Simpson said the FOP is well aware that change is a necessary element of policing and that the FOP has been an active participant in change over the years. He said the lodge has met with and continue to meet with elected officials.
During the briefing, Simpson criticized Mayor Ginther for actions taken in response to incidents during protests in Columbus.
“Mayor Ginther has lost all credibility. Mayor Ginther has failed as a leader, and Mayor Ginther has failed as a manager,” said Simpson. “Apparently Mayor Ginther believes that bullying the FOP and blaming police officers, who literally put their lives on the line each and every day, is an effective political strategy.”
Wednesday, Mayor Ginther announced 40 incidents involving Columbus police during recent protests will be referred to a law firm for investigation. Those incidents could result in administrative action against officers.
A further 16 incidents will be investigated by a former FBI agent hired by the city, with the possibility of criminal action against officers.
Mayor Ginther says one way or another, there will be a civilian review board in Columbus.
The Mayor announced he has seated a work group to structure a civilian review board, a recommendation from the Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission. He says that board must have subpoena power and the strongest investigative powers allowed under law.
“This isn’t the first time the FOP has attacked a black man working to advance police reform”
Ginther said the FOP will not be a part of that civilian review process, going as far as to say the ‘FOP has zero credibility in this community.”
Simpson criticized those actions, pointing out that not a single law enforcement officer was on that work group.
“He did, however, appoint an attorney who recently defended a cop killer,” said Simpson, referring to Fred Benton, the attorney for Quentin Smith, the man convicted of shooting and killing Westerville officers Tony Morelli and Eric Joering.
Simpson demanded an apology from Mayor Ginther for the appointment of Benton. NBC4 reached out to the mayor’s office and this was the reply:
“This isn’t the first time the FOP has attacked a black man working to advance police reform, oversight and accountability,” said Mayor Ginther in an emailed reply. “Fred Benton is one of the most respected members of our central Ohio legal community and will be a great addition to the civilian review board workgroup.”