Thomas Quinlan: 4 things to know about the new Columbus police chief

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Mayor Andrew Ginther named Thomas Quinlan the next chief of the Columbus Division of Police Tuesday morning.

Until Tuesday’s announcement, Quinlan served as CPD’s interim chief.

1. Thomas Quinlan is an internal candidate who has been with the Columbus Division of Police since 1989.

Quinlan has served in a variety of roles since joining CPD in 1989. He was promoted to sergeant in 1996 and lieutenant in 2001. In 2009, Quinlan as promoted to Commander, where he oversaw training of recruits from outside agencies.

In 2013, he was named Deputy Chief of the Patrol North Sub Division. According to his job application, he led the implementation of the Safe Streets Pilot and expansion program.

After the retirement of former chief Kim Jacobs in February, Quinlan was named interim chief.

Quinlan started his law enforcement career with the Madison Township Police Department in 1986.

He graduated from The Ohio State University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts & Sciences in Criminal Justice. In 2001, he earned a Master in Science in Human Resource Administration from Central Michigan University. Quinlan is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy Class 249 and the Police Executive Leadership Institute provided by the Major Cities Chief’s Association.

2. Quinlan says he has already made big changes to CPD since being named interim chief.

During a community forum in November, Quinlan highlighted the fact that he disbanded the troubled vice unit and created the PACT unit in its place.

Two high-profile cases led to Quinlan and CPD abolishing the vice unit. One was the arrest of Stormy Daniels last summer. The other was the fatal shooting of Donna Castleberry by former officer Andrew Mitchell in August 2018.

Vice officers cuffed Daniels where she was performing at a North Columbus strip club. Charges were dropped, but the city eventually settled a lawsuit for $450,000.

Former officer Andrew Mitchell is facing murder and involuntary manslaughter charges for shooting and killing Castleberry. In March, Mitchell was indicted on federal charges alleging he kidnapped victims under the guise of arrest and then forced them to engage in sex in exchange for their freedom.

Quinlan cited the changes he has made and continues to make as a reason for keeping him on as chief over an outside candidate.

“Taking the person out of the engine compartment and changing conductors while it’s at full speed can bring with it concerns and problems and unintended consequences,” said Quinlan in is defense of why it’s possible for a new perspective to come from inside the department. 

3. Chief Quinlan to CPD and the community: We’ve only just begun.

In his statement while being introduced as chief, Quinlan promised to continue moving the division forward.

The message I deliver today to the division of police and to the city of Columbus is this: We’ve only just begun.

We’ve only just begun to engage our neighborhoods. We’ve only just begun to nurture enduring relationships with community members advocates and our remarkable partner agencies.

We’ve only just begun on a path of progress. Designed to make Columbus safer, to ensure members of the community feel they have a voice in the service we provide and to know they can worry more about what they can do for their neighbor rather than what harm their neighbor might do to them.

Chief Thomas Quinlan

4. Chief Quinlan says he is committed to building a more diverse police agency.

A report released in August made dozens of recommendations on how CPD can operate more efficiently and improve community – police relations. It also suggested a need to address a perception of bias that exists among some residents and it highlights a “significant disparity of use of force against minority residents.”

In 2017, there were 438 incidents involving police use of force and 51% of the individuals involved were black while 26% were white.

In 2018, the number of incidents decreased to 411 with 55% involving black people and 26% were white.

“We’ve only just begun to build a more diverse police agency, which must reflect the community we serve. We’ve only just begun to make the interactions between police officers and the community members more positive and productive,” said Quinlan. “Whether you are a member of the community or one of my division employees. I want to ensure you are treated fairly and with respect. I will not tolerate racism or discrimination.”

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