Ohio Coalition Launches Petition Calling for DOJ Investigation of Columbus Police


A coalition of Ohio activism organizations have launched a petition asking the Department of Justice to investigate the Columbus Division of Police for a “pattern and practice of misconduct.”

Addressed to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta and the U.S. Department of Justice, the petition says that the Columbus Division of Police has failed to “faithfully implement the provisions” originally agreed upon in a settlement case connected to a previous DOJ investigation more than 20 years ago.

“That settlement was grossly inadequate, and the Columbus Division of Police has shown a repeated pattern of excessive force and discriminatory policing practices,” the petition says. “The City of Columbus has failed to faithfully implement the provisions agreed upon in the settlement agreement and have not demonstrated the ability to hold police officers under their employment accountable for violations of their own protocols and violations of the civil rights of their citizens.”

The petition — sponsored by the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and supported by more than 30 organizations — points to excessive and lethal force used against Black Columbus residents, militaristic anti-protest tactics and internal discrimination against Black police officers as reasons to investigate. It also cites hiring practices that result in police not living within the communities they serve and millions of dollars paid in settlements in police misconduct lawsuits in the past 10 years.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio was among the organizations supporting the petition.

The petition also comes as Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther sent a letter to the Department of Justice inviting it to conduct an investigation into the police force.

Ginther and the city’s attorney general sent a letter to the DOJ on Wednesday asking for an investigation, according to AP News.

“This is not about one particular officer, policy, or incident; rather, this is about reforming the entire institution of policing in Columbus,” the pair said the letter. “Simply put: We need to change the culture of the Columbus Division of Police.”

The petition echoed Ginther’s sentiments.

“The compounding trauma inflicted on Black children and families by Columbus Police is unacceptable. The City of Columbus has not taken sufficient steps to address the permeating culture of corruption, discrimination, and impunity within the force. The City has not demonstrated an ability to meaningfully repair harm caused or to prevent further misconduct,” the petition says. “Until the Department of Justice mandates and oversees the effective implementation of major structural changes within the department the most vulnerable in the Columbus community — people of color, children, low-income people, people with disabilities, immigrants, and LGBTQ people— will not be safe from those sworn to protect and serve us.”

Read the full petition here.

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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Ohio Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair.
Photo “Columbus Police Officers” by Becker1999. CC BY 2.0.










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