Mayor Ginther refers incidents involving Columbus police for independent investigation

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)– Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther says several dozen incidents will be referred to two independent investigation groups for possible administrative or criminal action.

Mayor Ginther announced that two independent entities will be hired to address complaints against officers.

BakerHostetler, an Ohio-based law firm will investigate 40 incidents referred to the mayor’s office that 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.

Ginther did not disclose the identity of the former agent being contracted.

More incidents could be forwarded to either investigative path.

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.

“In creating this work group, I selected subject matter experts and key community stakeholders who will help guide important decisions including how the board will be seated, how it will operate and what powers will be afforded to the board,” Ginther said 

The work group includes:

·        Jasmine Ayres, community organizer, Peoples Justice Project

·        Fred Benton, attorney

·        Bo Chilton, President and CEO, Impact Community Action

·        Dr. Lewis Dodley, IMPACT Community Action

·        Stephanie Hightower, President and CEO of Columbus Urban League

·        Pastor Frederick LaMarr, President, Baptist Pastors Conference

·        Kent Markus, General/Bar Counsel, Columbus Bar Association

·        Jonathan McCombs, Dean of College of Health and Public Administration, Franklin University

·        Ismail Mohammad, attorney, Ismail Law Office

·        Densil R. Porteous, Chair, Create Columbus

·        Aslyne Rodriguez, Director of Government Affairs, COTA

·        Janay Stevens, President, John Mercer Langston Bar Association, Associate, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP

·        Kyle Strickland, Senior Legal Analyst, Kirwin Institute

·        Erin Synk, Director of Government Relations, LNE Group

·        Nana Watson, President, NAACP Columbus

·        Anthony Wilson, Vice President National Organization of Black Law Enforcement – Columbus Chapter

Last week Ginther discussed the need for police reform in the city. A central piece of his agenda is to implement a citizen’s review board, which would review cases of alleged police misconduct.

After that announcement, Ginther met with the Fraternal Order of Police union.

“I met with Keith Ferrell of the FOP to talk about our community’s clear calls for change. I am disappointed in the FOP’s lack of commitment to the reforms we need at the Columbus Division of Police,” Ginther tweeted after their 30 minute meeting.

“When you’re talking about police reform, citizen’s review boards, things to that effect – policing and law enforcement – to me I think it’s just common sense to have a law enforcement professional at the table, at least for input,” FOP Capital City Lodge #9 Executive Vice President Jeff Simpson said about the meeting.

That same day, Columbus City Council has announced a package of legislative proposals on police reform.

The Columbus Division of Police and Ginther have been under scrutiny for what some see as overaggressive behavior towards Black Lives Matter protesters who have been gathering for various protests over the past month.

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