COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Residents shared their input on attitudes and perceptions about the Columbus Division of Police, and the stories they shared were not particularly positive.
Many of the speakers who turned out to a meeting at City Hall Wednesday were people of color, and they shared their horror stories of their interactions with Columbus police.
The members of the community who turned out to City Hall had one thing in mind — to protect the Columbus community.
“To protect my community and Columbus as a whole, it’s necessary for us to make the changes,” said resident Adrienne Hood. “There are cities across the county they are making the necessary changes about accountability, not only accountability of the citizens but of law enforcement. Its time for us to get on the right side.”
Hood is the mother of Henry Green, who Columbus police said ignored commands to drop his gun during an encounter with plainclothes officers in the summer of 2016. Green was shot and killed by police. None of the officers in the case were charged.
The Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission listened to testimony similar to Hood’s so the commission can make recommendations to further strengthen the police department’s safety strategies.
Dr. Chenelle Jones, a member of the commission, sent a statement, which reads, in part:
“…It is clear that while some people have had very pleasant encounters with the police, many people have not and tonight’s public hearing allowed everyone to speak their truth. We plan to take the comments and feedback…
“…While this has been a long process for everyone, and at times not the easiest, our goal has always been the same, and that is to make the Columbus Division of Police the best law enforcement agency that it can be.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther formed the Columbus Community Safety Advisor Commission in 2018 to review Columbus Division of Police policies, training, and procedures.
Hana Abdur-Rahim, with the Peoples’ Justice Project, said her peace as well, reflecting on the time she said Columbus police used excessive force at a demonstration.
“As I was walking away, he ran up to me,” she said. “He grabbed me by my shoulder and directly pepper sprayed me in my eyes.”
Abdur-Rahim said she was disappointed Ginther wasn’t at Wednesday’s meeting.
“People that are here and should actually make changes in the police department because they paid them our tax money, they aren’t here. So maybe they heard, but I don’t feel like there’s going to be an effective change.”
Many of the people who attended the meeting will gather at the statehouse to demand lawmakers pass bills on police deescalation, accountability, and transparency. That rally is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday.