COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A 14-member panel to advise Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan was announced Tuesday by Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.

The group will give input about strategies, the development of community policing practices, and increasing community transparency.

LaShaun Carter is on the panel. He works at Franklin County Children Services and is a Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commissioner.

He says background has always been about equity, and to represent the voice of young people and adds he’s ready to amply the voices of the people who peacefully protest and are subjected to being pepper sprayed and maced.

“Racism has been here for a while. I’m in my 40s so it’s been part of my experience from day one,” said Carter. “You know the first time law enforcement pulled me over for something I didn’t do happened on Refugee Road on the east side and I’ve had negative interactions, I’ve had great interactions, but the reality is that the prevailing experience has been a negative one, and so we have to do something to change it. The same intentionality that went behind these systems of oppression is required to dismantle them. So we have to be intentional about what we want and think now people are speaking up on behalf of their interest and holding people accountable.”

Another member is Tammy Fournier-Alsaasa, the founder of the People Justice Project. 

She’s been on the front lines of many protests around the city and she too says she’s witnessed and even been caught up in the aggressive nature of Columbus Police Officers.

She says for far too long nothing has changed and she’s here to share her experiences to bring about the change the City and Police department seem to want now.

“I sat in the safety commission all those months trying to get the police force to understand that those bicycles are weapons when they attack, I got scars on my legs now from being hit with bicycles,” said Fournier-Alsaasa. “That when they try to control folks exercising their First Amendment rights that we are being abused.”

The panel will also help prioritize the community’s issues and provide feedback on changes this city is making regarding its policing.

“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