by J.D. Davidson
The U.S. Justice Department will spend a half-million dollars to help one Ohio community two years after a mass shooting, and it announced an assessment is planned into another city’s police department.
Nine people died and dozens were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the Oregon District in Dayton a little more than two years ago. A $488,054 DOJ grant will help pay for four additional mental health counselors and related costs at two mental health facilities to help those affected by the shooting.
“We have an obligation to help our communities recover from violent crimes, abuse, and other criminal activity. I am glad the Department of Justice is providing the necessary mental health resources to help those impacted by the tragic Oregon District shooting in Dayton,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said. “Families and communities that were directly or indirectly affected by this tragedy will have these additional resources at their disposal to begin healing and receive the necessary care they need to recover.”
The money, from the DOJ’s Office for Victims of Crime, will be funneled through Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office.
The DOJ also announced it plans to evaluate the operations of the Columbus Police Department after a request from Mayor Andrew Ginther and the department. Ginther and CPD have acknowledged a recent history of misconduct and excessive force in the department.
“I have been troubled by the many instances of police misconduct and excessive use of force that we have seen in Columbus in recent years,” Brown said. “I’m encouraged that the Department of Justice will be evaluating the operations of the Columbus Division of Police and look forward to their recommendation on a set of policies and practices that will improve safety and build trust with the communities they serve, particularly communities of color.”
The review request in April followed the shooting death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, who was shot by an officer while apparently swinging a knife at another woman.
“This is an important day for the future of policing in Columbus,” Ginther said in a statement. “This is not about one particular officer, policy or incident; rather, this is about reforming the entire institution of policing in Columbus. I am confident in the partnership and the additional tools the DOJ’s COPS Office will bring to our city.”
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Sherrod Brown” by AFL-CIO America’s Unions CC BY 2.0.