Columbus Police Chief Dissolves Troubled Vice Unit
Following internal and FBI probes that led to indictments against one officer, interim Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan announced Tuesday that he’s dissolving the department’s troubled vice squad. Alison Holm has more.
In a short video on the police division’s Twitter account, Quinlan announced that three unnamed officers have been removed from the vice unit, and that the remaining seven would be reassigned.
“The vice unit is currently undergoing an internal review by the investigative deputy chief. While today’s decision is not a reflection on all of the officers assigned to vice, it has become clear there is a better method of addressing the communities needs when it comes to the enforcement of prostitution, alcohol and gambling.”
Three of the unit’s officers are under suspension. 31-year veteran Andrew Mitchell was indicted last week on several charges, including holding two women against their will and demanding sex from them, and also for lying to federal authorities about the encounters. He has been arrested and is due in court on Thursday.
Officers Steven Rosser and Whitney Lancaster were suspended last year as part of an ongoing FBI investigation, although neither have been charged. The were both involved in the arrest of porn actress Stormy Daniels at an area strip club in July. Charges against Daniels were quickly dropped and an internal-affairs investigation was launched into the matter. That investigation recently concluded the arrest was improper, although it says there was “no direct evidence” off political motivation.
Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther issued a statement Tuesday night applauding the decision, saying the Vice Unit “has lost the public trust.”
Quinlan says he met with officers of the Vice Unit Tuesday to discuss new assignements, and will meet with Deputy Chief Tim Becker before announcing a new plan for handling vice complaints.