Pastor: Columbus Council budget vote could make statement on police reform

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The city of Columbus will vote Monday on the proposed budget that may pause the next police recruiting class, with one community activist asking what kind of police reform “statement” the city is prepared to make with its vote.

Last year, the city council announced an audit into the Columbus Division of Police’s recruiting and hiring process. Council President Shannon Hardin said he believes the council should wait until the completion of that audit to bring in the new class.

Meanwhile, Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus said the last class of recruits hopes to build upon diversity with the new recruiting class, adding that the last class of recruits was more diverse than anyone can remember.

Pastor Timothy Clarke with the First Church of God, who conducted funerals for two Black Columbus men shot by law enforcement officers in December, Casey Goodson Jr. and Andre’ Hill, said Columbus residents need to ask themselves one question about Council’s proposal.

“The question that is before us is the question of ‘statement,’” Clarke said. “What statement will that make? Strategy, what strategy will that require? And then, in the end, what will it do for the structure and the systems of our city?”

When asked what his opinion was and how the city should move forward, Clarke said he wants Council to do what’s best for the city and best for people’s lives.

“I know their hearts and even when their points of disagreements may not necessarily be about ‘the what,’ maybe about ‘the how?’ I am praying, trusting, believing, that they are going to come to work together and come to a mutually beneficial conclusion that will be profitable, beneficial, productive for the city of Columbus.”

Regardless of tomorrow’s decision, he wants people to sit on this thought.

“Don’t give up on hope.”

The Columbus City Council meeting is scheduled to be held virtually beginning at 5 p.m. Monday.

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