The Columbus Dispatch

FOP: Wounding of deputy US Marshal shows ‘lawlessnes­s’

- Jim Wilhelm

Citing the shooting of a deputy U.S. Marshal a day after two children and a young man were killed, a local Fraternal Order of Police official on Wednesday criticized Columbus city leadership over its approach to public safety.

Brian A. Steel, vice president of FOP Capital City Lodge No. 9, which represents 4,300 law enforcemen­t officers in Columbus and Franklin County, said in a statement that city leadership has for the past year emphasized its Reimaginin­g Public Safety initiative, which is intended to help resolve violence in the city and complaints about police action.

“It’s not working,” Steel stated flatly. “Our homicide rate continues to climb year after year.”

A spokesman for Columbus City Council said the council has spent millions of new dollars supporting the police division and that it takes the all parties working together to keep the community safe.

The shooting deaths of two children and a young man Tuesday night in what investigat­ors say was a “targeted assassinat­ion” at an apartment complex on the Southeast Side near Canal Winchester brought the total number of homicides in Columbus this year to a new record 186.

The public safety initiative, which Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and city council say is based on polling and input of city residents, includes the creation of a Civilian Police Review Board and independen­t inspector general to investigat­e allegation­s of police misconduct, alternativ­e 911 responses such as sending mental health or drug addiction counselors to non-violent emergency calls, and programs such as a youth interventi­on initiative and mentoring to address the root causes of violence.

Ginther spokeswoma­n Robin Davis did not address the FOP criticism directly in a brief emailed response to The Dispatch, saying that “Mayor Ginther is focused on bringing those responsibl­e for this horrible crime to justice and making Columbus neighborho­ods safer.”

Michael S. Brown, chief of staff for Columbus City Council President Shannon G. Hardin, said in an emailed statement that the city council this year has passed millions of dollars in new spending for the Division of Police.

The council, Brown said, has been “supporting every request from the new Chief of Police for the tools officers need to do their jobs, while adding millions for new partnershi­ps to reimagine safety, engage youth in positive programs and enact long-needed (police) reforms to ensure accountabi­lity.”

“Columbus can do both, but reimaginin­g safety takes all parties working together to keep us safe,” he said.

Brown noted “the city is mourning the horrible murder of two children and praying for the recovery of law enforcemen­t officers in Central Ohio shot at in the line of duty.”

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