Reimagining Public Safety Town Halls

[Columbus, OH] Today, City Council announced a series of town hall discussions to gain further insight into reimagining safety in the capital City. Each forum features subject-matter experts leading the conversation and opportunities for public dialogue.

“These town halls are designed to hear from national subject-matter experts as well as local residents who are experts on our City and what will keep them safe,” said Council President Shannon G. Hardin. “In 2020, we saw the deadliest year on record when it comes to homicides in Columbus. We saw two unarmed residents gunned down by law enforcement in December. Council is committed to pushing forward an operating budget that reimagines safety.”

In 2020, Council began the initial phase of reform with the passage of a comprehensive legislative safety package, which included independent investigations into lethal force, demilitarization of police, limiting no-knock raids and instituting background checks for hate-group affiliation. This series continues the ongoing deliberations of the City’s Operating Budget.

Each session focuses on one of the three pillars, which are the backbone of Council’s efforts moving forward to reimagining safety. They are investing in accountability and a better Division of Police, establishing alternative crisis response models and investing in violence prevention. 

“Achieving real change that protects the safety of every person in our city will take fierce dedication and the willpower of all of us working together,” said President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown. “These town halls will help direct our efforts as we continue working to reimagine public safety through the operating budget and other city programs. We have heard the calls from across our city that the status quo is unacceptable, and it is our duty as elected officials to respond.”

Any resident seeking to provide written or live testimony via WebEx during the virtual hearing must submit their intention using the following LINK HERE. Requests must be entered by noon on the day of the event. Ten speakers will be heard per town hall, with remarks limited to three minutes or less. There will be audience engagement activities during the town hall events. 

  • Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 5:30pm
    Establishing Alternative Public Safety Crisis Response, led by Council President Shannon G. Hardin
    • Attend via WebEx  –  Password: 12345
    • By Phone: 1-650-479-3207, Access code: 180 969 1521
    • CLICK HERE to provide testimony via WebEx during the town hall. Requests must be entered by noon on the day of the event.
  • Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 5:30pm
    Investing in Violence Prevention, led by Councilmember Mitchell J. Brown
    • Attend via WebEx  –  Password: 12345
    • By Phone: 1-650-479-3207, Access code: 180 507 9073
    • CLICK HERE to provide testimony via WebEx during the town hall. Requests must be entered by noon on the day of the event.
  • Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 5:30pm
    Investing in Accountability and a Better Division of Police, led by Councilmember Rob Dorans
    • Attend via WebEx  –  Password: 12345
    • By Phone: 1-650-479-3207, Access code: 180 774 8384
    • CLICK HERE to provide testimony via WebEx during the town hall. Requests must be entered by noon on the day of the event.
  • Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 5:30pm
    Establishing Alternative Public Safety Crisis Response, led by Councilmember Shayla Favor
    • Attend via WebEx  –  Password: 12345
    • By Phone: 1-650-479-3207, Access code: 180 419 5906
    • CLICK HERE to provide testimony via WebEx during the town hall. Requests must be entered by noon on the day of the event.
  • Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 4pm
    Investing in Violence Prevention, led by President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown
    • Attend via WebEx  –  Password: 12345
    • By Phone: 1-650-479-3207, Access code: 180 151 7461
    • CLICK HERE to provide testimony via WebEx during the town hall. Requests must be entered by noon on the day of the event.
  • Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 5:30pm
    Investing in Accountability and a Better Division of Police, hosted by Councilmember Emmanuel V. Remy
    • Attend via WebEx  –  Password: 12345
    • By Phone: 1-650-479-3207, Access code: 180 405 0178
    • CLICK HERE to provide testimony via WebEx during the town hall. Requests must be entered by noon on the day of the event.


The town halls will be streamed on Council’s Facebook page and the City of Columbus YouTube channel

Announcement on Formation of Civilian Review Board

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther, along with City Council President Shannon J. Hardin, accepted the recommendations from the Civilian Review Board Work Group. The Work Group was charged with developing the framework for a Civilian Police Review Board to provide oversight of the Columbus Division of Police. In November, Columbus voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the city charter to establish a civilian police review board and Inspector General for the Division of Police.

“Columbus is the only major metropolitan area without any kind of civilian oversight of law enforcement, which continues to erode trust between the community and police,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “With the passage of Issue 2 in November and the recommendations from the Work Group, we are well positioned to make it a reality in 2021.”

“Rebuilding trust and improving accountability in the Division of Police is a critical component to reimagining safety in Columbus,” said Council President Shannon G. Hardin. “Council appreciates the Civilian Review Working Group for providing recommendations on structural questions for how the Review Board should operate. Council will engage in a deliberative process to review these recommendations and work with Mayor Ginther to stand up the Civilian Review Board in 2021.”

The work group comprised of community members representing diverse backgrounds, experiences, ages, races and skill sets worked for several months to review best practices from other cities and to recommend what would work best for Columbus. Their recommendations include:

  • A nine-member Civilian Review Board, with staggered three-year terms
  • Board appointments by Mayor Ginther in consultation with Columbus City Council
  • Board diversity in race, age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, and a majority of its members must live in the city of Columbus.
  • Board will receive ongoing training in police tactics, constitutional law, de-escalation, implicit bias, and other important subject matters
  • The Board should be given broad investigative powers, including subpoena powers.
  • The minimum qualifications for the new inspector general will be set by the board.

Applications for the Civilian Review Board are being accepted now through Jan. 15, 2021.

Safe and LEGAL July 4th Fireworks

The Columbus Division of Fire regarding the illegal sale and discharge of fireworks throughout the City of Columbus.

Key take-aways:

  • The use of any explosive fireworks or rockets is illegal throughout the City of Columbus.
  • The only legal fireworks that may be displayed in Ohio are those that Snake, Smoke, Snap and Sparkle. 
  • Because the use of illegal fireworks can cause severe injuries, property destruction and death, the Columbus Division of Fire will have specialized teams of fire investigators deployed this weekend who can respond to calls of illegal firework sales and large professional-grade displays that put the safety of our residents at risk.
  • Do not set off illegal fireworks and if using snakes, smokes, snaps or sparkles, please take safety precautions.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend!