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Safety Advisory Commission Urges Columbus Police To Reform Training

Police in riot gear in front of a protest at the Ohio Statehouse.
Jo Ingles
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Police in riot gear in front of a protest at the Ohio Statehouse.

Columbus City Council hosted a hearing Wednesday afternoon to review how police are implementing recommended reforms from the city's Community Safety Advisory Commission.

Over 80 recommendations were laid out in a January report from the commission, spanning from the creation of a citizen review board to new officer training initiatives. Last Friday, Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan said the department has completed or is working on implementing 61% of the board’s recommendations. 

In light of the recent protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, commission members reiterated the changes they wanted to see Columbus Police implement.

Brook Burns said one recommendation includes teaching new police recruits about the history of policing in America.

“That way, new cadets are made aware of why it is that certain communities, i.e. communities of color, African American communities, may not have the same view of police as other communities do,” Burns said.

She said recommendation 19 was particularly pertinent in light of protests calling for police reform: “To add and integrate specific language into the training curriculum regarding crowd control that specifically addresses citizens’ individual civil rights, including the first amendment right to peaceably assemble and protest."

Both the commission and the independent Matrix report on police procedures, released in 2019, say the Columbus Division of Police’s protocol for use of chemical agents goes against that of other large police divisions.

Other recommendations include teaching cadets about the history of police-citizen relationships in different communities and creating a publicly accessible calendar that lets the public know when they can engage with police at community events.

Mayor Andrew Ginther said he plans to create a working group for an independent review board by July 1, and seat members by the end of 2020.

Ginther assembled the 17-member Community Safety Advisory Commission in 2018.