COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced the nine individuals Wednesday who are nominated as part of the first-ever Columbus Civilian Review Board taxed with overseeing the Columbus Division of Police.
Of those chosen, there are some members of the Safety Advisory Commission, a member of the police chief’s advisory panel, a retired police officer, faith leaders, and an attorney.
“We’ve been talking about a civilian review board in this city for decades, and we are here,” Ginther said Wednesday.
- Mark Fluharty, Executive Director of Central Ohio Labor Council
- Dr. Chenelle Jones, Assistant Dean/Chair of Public Safety Programs, Franklin University, member of Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission
- Willard McIntosh, retired Columbus Division of Police officer
- Pastor Rich Nathan, Vineyard Columbus
- Kyle Strickland, attorney, The Ohio State University Roosevelt Institute
- Randall Sistrunk, Director of Business Development, Orange Barrel Media, member of Chief’s Advisory Panel
- Rev. Charles Tatum, the Good Shepherd Baptist Church
- Mary Younger, former Franklin County Public Defender
- Janet Jackson, former city attorney and Franklin County municipal judge, chair of Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission
The nine were chosen out of 200 submissions, and Ginther said some 20 in-depth interview were conducted.
“The purpose of this board is to help restore trust between the community and the police,” Ginther said.
The board was constructed this past summer after Columbus residents gathered in a protest demanding police reform. Citizens voted for the review board on the Issue 2 ballot. More than 200,000 people voted for it.
The nominee for board chair, Janet Jackson, said the oversight of CPD is necessary for full transparency with the community.
“Columbus is the only major city without civilian oversight,” Jackson said. She cited “the criminal investigations being conducted right now” within the Columbus Police Department as evidence that the civilian board is necessary.
Ginther said one of the board’s duties will be to nominate an Inspector General who will investigate potential infractions, then turn over the recommendations to the board for consideration.
“For all of us who have been appointed to the board: We have a great responsibility ahead of us and we have a great task ahead of us,” said Dr. Chenelle Jones, one of the nominees.
Other aspects of the board include:
- A nine-member Civilian Review Board, with staggered three-year terms
- Board appointments by Mayor Ginther in consultation with Columbus City Council
- Board diversity in race, age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, and a majority of its members must live in the city of Columbus.
- Board will receive ongoing training in police tactics, constitutional law, de-escalation, implicit bias, and other important subject matters
- The Board should be given broad investigative powers, including subpoena powers.
The board will review alleged officer misconduct and excessive use of force as well as look at division policies. It also plans to be able to recommend discipline in those cases. Some of what the board hopes to be able to do needs to be approved in contract negotiations with the officers’ union, the Fraternal Order of Police.
“We really just want our officers to be treated fairly,” said FOP Vice-President Keith Ferrell. “We want people to be trained in policing, our policies, the law, and quite honestly how we do business and why, and to be treated fairly and to have that education there.”
Ginther called on city council to take “swift action” to approve the appointments, “so the board can begin its work in earnest.”
“I hope you’re ready because it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get started,” Jackson said.