COLUMBUS (WCMH) – City leaders and community members are weighing in on Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther’s request the U.S. Department of Justice review the city’s police department.
While Columbus Police have not commented, the city’s safety director, Ned Pettus, did issue a statement.
“We all want the same thing: a city that is safe, equitable, and responsive to the community. We stand ready to work in full cooperation with the department of justice,” Pettus wrote.
In addition, the Columbus Police officers union, the Fraternal Order of Police, sent a letter from it’s vice president, who wrote, “The members of the Fraternal Order of Police, Capital City Lodge #9, are always willing to work with any entity to improve policing in the communities they protect and serve.”
The letter goes on to say, “Politicians constantly vilifying officer breeds contempt for authority, emboldens the criminal element, and has led to a mass exodus of law enforcement officers from the profession.”
Community organizer Jasmine Ayres said she is working on her own DOJ request.
“What we are sort of asking for is that at every step and in every move that is made, the families that are affected, the people that are affected, and the community organizers who have been pushing for this for a long time are consulted in forming this process,” Ayres said.
Civil rights attorney Sean Walton, with Walton & Brown LLP, agreed.
“While we are thankful that he has finally made this request, it’s not enough,” he said. “We’re not asking for a review. We need federal oversight of this department immediately.”
Walton added that he does believe the DOJ will accept the mayor’s request for an investigation.
“We are deeply invested in this,” Ayres said. “We have a great amount of knowledge in this process and in the things that have not been done in this city. So we want to be included both at the local and the federal level.”
Walton and Ayres were interviewed shortly after Ginther released the letter to the public, with both saying the mayor making this move is long overdue.
“Long overdue is an understatement,” Walton said. “In fact, it has been negligent it has not happened to this point.”
Walton and Ayres plan on released more information about their efforts Thursday.
“In our eyes, it’s a formality at this point that the DOJ comes in,” Walton said. “The community is asking for it, the city, as a result, is asking for it, and it’s a formality and we’re looking forward to a restructure and reformed police department that leads to safety for all families in Columbus.”
Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin took to Twitter, saying he was pleased with the request for the DOJ to get involved.
“For months, City Council led public conversations about the future of safety in Columbus,” Hardin tweeted. “The breach of trust between police and residents, especially black residents, is undeniable.”