COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Mayor Andrew Ginther held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss two measures regarding the Columbus Division of Police.
Ginther issued a directive to CPD prohibiting the use of tear gas and pepper spray to clear streets and disperse peaceful protests. He said additional policy changes regarding how chemical agents can be used will be drafted in conjunction with City Attorney Zach Klein.
“This new policy will stop unnecessary confrontations between police officers and peaceful protestors exercising their First Amendment rights,” said City Attorney Zach Klein. “This important change reflects our city’s and my own personal commitment to meaningful reforms and balances public safety and protected speech.”
A 14-member panel to advise Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan was also announced by Ginther. The group will give input about strategies, the development of community policing practices, and increasing community transparency.
“This is not just a commission or committee that will sit idly by,” said Ginther. “The Chief’s panel will weigh in and provide feedback on changes we are making, such as significantly limiting the use of tear gas and pepper spray by the Columbus Division of Police.”
The panel consists of:
- Aba Azeem, Vice Chair of the Create Columbus Commission
- Lourdes Barosso de Padilla, Director of the Latina Mentoring Academy
- Love Benton, Vice Chair, Black, Out and Proud
- James Burke IV, President Columbus National Pan Hellenic Council
- LaShaun Carter, Chief Diversity Officer at Franklin County Children Services and Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commissioner
- Stefanie Coe, Commissioner, Civil Service Commission
- Yaves Ellis, Pastor and Director of Community Affairs at Urban 1
- Tammy Fournier, Founder and Organizing Director, Peoples Justice Project and Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commissioner
- Florence Latham, Human Resources Consultant and Executive Coach
- Kristy McCray, Associate Professor, Otterbein University
- Diane Menashe, partner at Ice Miller
- Andrew B. Pierce II, Undergraduate Student, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University
- Randall Sistrunk, Director of Development, Orange Barrel Media
- Erin Upchurch, Executive Director, Kaleidoscope Youth Center
A little more than two weeks ago, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty was pepper-sprayed while peacefully protesting alongside Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce and Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin.
“I think it’s a great first step,” Beatty said of Ginther’s announcement. “I am very pleased with it, but certainly we have a long way to go. We need to figure out how the elected officials, the new panel — how all of us are held accountable.”
Beatty said she plans on working with city leaders to effect more change in the community.
Video of the full announcement is below.