At a joint press conference this morning, Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther and Police Chief Tom Quinlan pledged to keep the public informed on clear, tangible actions the city will take regarding policing.
Ginther said his top priority will be negotiating a civilian review board into the next police union contract. In the next week or two, the city plans to name an advisory panel that will meet directly with Chief Quinlan. Although it's in the initial draft stages, Quinlan envisions 12 members selected by the mayor and city council.
"If you get too many, it's too hard to have detailed conversations so we want to keep it where everyone can have meaningful input," Quinlan continued. "I have no qualifications on whether it's maybe a person that's a convicted felon, as long as there are no outstanding warrants. Anyone in the community that the mayor and city council select, they will be able to meet with me and discuss what's occurring in the community. I can share body camera footage with them, and some criminal information that won't disrupt the ongoing investigation because it’s still important for the citizen to have due process. Because it’s a chief’s advisory panel, they can have access to stuff that we may not be able to put online. They can look at what the decisions were, how we reached this charge over that charge, how we used force or different tactics to make apprehensions, and they can advise me. I'm the one who can set policy for the division, and they have a direct line to me."
Mayor Ginther added that there will be two priorities for the advisory group.
"Reviewing use of force policies and how we interact with peaceful protesters," Ginther said. "Obviously I think there's a wide consensus out there in the community about how we handle people who are here to hurt our officers, to destroy our property, and burn our city. But how we engage peaceful protesters and our use of force policies will be top priorities for this group. Columbus' expectations are of a 21st century, community policing engagement strategy that Chief Quinlan was hired to implement and do based on the Matrix recommendations, the safety advisory commission recommendations and his vision of community policing in a 21st century model. We no longer are going to be a department that operates on minimum standards but meeting and exceeding community expectations."
Ginther said law enforcement continues to face two groups - the overwhelmingly peaceful protesters and a much smaller criminal element putting officers, protesters and the public at risk.