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DOJ Report Calls for Upgraded Training, Hiring, and Accountability Measures for Columbus Police Department
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The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently released its recommendations for the reform of the Columbus, Ohio, police department. The recommendations come following a two-year review process and aim to improve the department and community relationship. The Columbus Division of Police requested the review and assistance in implementing reforms in April 2021, as it faced multiple scandals, including the handling of protests for racial justice and deadly police shootings, such as the cases of Andre Hill and Ma’Khia Bryant.

The 14-page report by the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) provides suggestions to improve training, hiring, and accountability and establish a leadership group that includes community members, police, and the Civil Service Commission. The report also highlights the police department’s lack of technical capability and recommends a technology audit to improve the same.

The review was initially focused on improving the police department’s relationship with the community. Still, after receiving the report, the department requested the COPS Office to review its use of force policies. The DOJ statement states, “The city’s request to expand its engagement with COPS to review additional areas, including CDP’s use of force policies, is an important step that will benefit both CDP and the community.”

  
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The Columbus Division of Police has faced accusations of racial discrimination, including lawsuits from three Black officers within its ranks. In October 2020, the city council agreed to a $475,000 settlement with a Black officer who reported retaliation for reporting misconduct and racism. In May 2021, the city agreed to a $10 million settlement with the family of Andre Hill, a Black man killed by an officer. The department has also faced criticism following the shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl, in April 2021.

To improve community engagement, the report suggests providing problem-solving training for community liaison officers, allowing them to engage with business owners, faith leaders, and the community. Additionally, the report emphasizes that all police personnel must be dedicated to community policing and engagement. The report also recommends that officers patrol on foot, bike, or Segway instead of police vehicles.

The COPS Office suggests that the police department add city attorney-based training to the academy and allow officers to participate in external specialized training, including from the FBI. To improve accountability, the report recommends establishing a leadership group that includes community members, police, and the Civil Service Commission. The report concludes that the Columbus Division of Police has the potential to make positive reforms and is on a path to becoming a stronger agency.

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The DOJ’s recommendations for the reform of the Columbus, Ohio, police department aim to improve the relationship between the department and the community, improve training, hiring, and accountability, and establish a leadership group that includes community members, police, and the Civil Service Commission. The report highlights the need for a technology audit and emphasizes that all police personnel must be dedicated to community policing and engagement. The report also recommends that officers patrol on foot, bike, or Segway instead of police vehicles and that the police department add city attorney-based training and allow officers to participate in external specialized training.



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Justice Department recommends improvements in training, hiring and accountability for Columbus, Ohio, police department



 

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