Columbus Unveils Appointments To New Police Civilian Review Board
Mayor Andrew Ginther has announced his appointments to the city’s new Civilian Review Board, who will be charged with oversight of Columbus Police.
In a gymnasium at the Scioto Southland Recreation Center, Ginther emphasized the significance of the moment. He says the city is on the cusp of finishing work it began a long time ago.
“We’ve been talking about a Civilian Review Board in this city for decades, and we are here,” Ginther said. “And we have this incredible group of our neighbors who have raised their hands and agreed to help us do this critically important work.”
The city narrowed a pool of 200 applications to Ginther’s slate of nine appointees:
- Mark Fluharty, executive director of Central Ohio Labor Council
- Dr. Chenelle Jones, assistant dean/chair of public safety programs, Franklin University, member of Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission
- Willard McIntosh, retired Columbus Division of Police officer
- Pastor Rich Nathan, Vineyard Columbus
- Kyle Strickland, attorney, The Ohio State University Roosevelt Institute
- Randall Sistrunk, director of business development, Orange Barrel Media, member of Columbus Police Chief’s Advisory Panel
- Rev. Charles Tatum, the Good Shepherd Baptist Church
- Mary Younger, former Franklin County Public Defender
- Janet Jackson, former Columbus City Attorney and Franklin County municipal judge, chair of Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission
Columbus City Council still has to approve the slate, and once the board is seated, it will begin a search for an inspector general, who will be charged with larger reviews of police policy.
Ginther described how the past year, marked by protests for racial justice, underscores the need for civilian oversight of police.
Former Columbus City Attorney Janet Jackson, tapped to lead the board, framed it a kind of corrective measure. Asking rhetorically why the city needs the board, Jackson pointed to the group of officers refusing to provide testimony about potential police misconduct during last summer’s protests.
“They are not willing to identify officers who may have committed crimes, they are refusing to live by the same standards that they expect of us,” Jackson said. “What kind of message does that send? How does that build public trust?”
The Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing the city’s police division, last week filed a restraining order against the city after a special prosecutor attempted to compel the officers to talk. Those officers are only witnesses and not the subjects of the criminal investigation, but the FOP argues their contract gives them protection from having to participate if an investigation could lead to any criminal charges.
Meanwhile, the city is in midst of contract negotiations with the FOP. The deal they come up with could have a significant impact on setting the bounds of the Civilian Review Board’s power to investigate or discipline officers.
Columbus voters overwhelmingly approved a charter amendment establishing the Civilian Review Board and Inspector General during the November 2020 election.