• City to address reported disparities in use of force

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A report highlighting racial disparities in use of force by police in Ohio's capital has prompted promises from local leaders to address the issue.

    Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said at a news conference this week that the city must make improvements.

    The internal report found about half of the Columbus police division's 438 incidents involving use of force in 2017 were directed against black people, who only make up 28% of the city's population.

    The Columbus Dispatch reported that in an internal survey of more than 1,000 departmental employees, or about 44% of the division, 8% said they had witnessed an officer demonstrate bias against a member of the public. Among black employees, about 30% said they had witnessed discrimination against the public, and almost 70% had seen it within the division, according to the newspaper.

    Ginther, a Democrat, said that changing a community's culture takes time, but the commitment to reform is there.

    "Those disparities just aren't consistent with our values," Ginther told The Dispatch. "Columbus wants a community-oriented police department. We can do a lot better job of helping our officers so they can better help the community."

    Keith Ferrell, president of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge which represents Columbus police, said officers are "more than happy to improve" relations with the public, but he added that the public also should take some responsibility for confrontations.

    Ferrell contends that officers typically react to what people are doing. Elected officials and community leaders need to tell the public "this is what you can and can't do when you interact with the police," Ferrell said.

    Ginther said he views the study as the "road map" to naming a permanent police chief, a process he expects to conclude by early 2020.

    Kim Jacobs, the police division's first female chief, stepped down in February after nearly seven years. Tom Quinlan is serving as interim chief.

    The 330-page report was completed by a California-based consulting group for the Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission as part of its review of city police training and procedures.


    Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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