A summer of protests following the death of George Floyd was the catalyst for police reform that saw approval of Columbus' first Civilian Police Review Board in the fall. The first slate of board members was announced Wednesday.
Mayor Andy Ginther says the need for civilian oversight of the Division of Police has been building for years, and the overwhelming passage of last fall's charter amendment in the wake of the summer protests opened the door.
"For too long the police have operated without any independent oversight. In November the people of this community - the voters - spoke, and said that was unacceptable."
Once approved by City Council, the Civilian Police Review Board will be involved in the process of selecting the city's first inspector general. It can can investigate allegations of police misconduct and review use-of-force complaints, and will be able to make discipline recommendations to the chief of police or the director of Public Safety.
Former city attorney, county judge and CEO of the United Way of Central Ohio Janet Jackson will chair the board. Other members of the board are:
- Dr. Chenelle Jones, Franklin University Chair Public Safety programs
- Mark Fluharty, Executive Director of the Central Ohio Labor Council
- Willard McIntosh, retired Columbus police officer
- Pastor Rich Nathan, Vineyard Columbus
- Pastor Charles Tatum, Good shepherd Baptist Church
- Kyle Strickland, lawyer with the OSU Roosevelt Institute
- Randall Sistrunk, Director of Business Development, Orange Barrel Media
- Mary Younger, former Franklin County Public Defender
Jackson says the criminal investigations into the actions of Columbus police officers during demonstrations this summer - and the reluctance of officers to participae in those investigations - shows the need for a way to rebuild public confidence in the Division.
"I have great respect for our police officers and what they do, to protect and serve. But, 'with great power, comes great responsibility'. And when they do wrong they must be held accountable. And accountability does not - can not - come from within the division alone."
Jackson says the first step will be training for board members, then launching the search for the city's Inspector General, who will in turn recruit investigators and will report to the board. She says the board will not only review investigations into allegations of misconduct, but also review and recommend changes to division of Police policies and procedures.
Review board members have been appointed for a three-year term. The process to remove or replace members has not yet been determined, but they eventually will serve staggered terms. The board members announced Wednesday range in age from 30 to 72, six identify as Black, according to their applications, and the majority live in the city of Columbus, although residency was not a requirement.
More than 200 people applied for the nine positions.