Columbus Officials Announce Post-Review of City’s Protest Response
An investigative research team consisting of a former US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio and The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs will conduct an “outside, after-action” independent research review of the city’s response to recent Black Lives Matter protests, officials announced Wednesday, July 22.
“As leaders, we must hold ourselves accountable to the residents of Columbus. City officials have the responsibility to recognize, assess and improve areas where we fell short in our response to the recent protests. And, equally so, we need to identify and build upon what we got right,” said City Attorney Klein in a press release sent out after a Wednesday morning conference. “To provide solid and holistic analysis, we need an outside, objective team.”
Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter Stewart will help lead the independent research team as special investigative researcher, which will include gathering information about the government agencies and officers involved, CDP training policies and protocols, and other data.
“We’re going to look at the facts of what happened, how we got to this moment, what went right, what went wrong, and figure out how we can do better,” said Stewart.
OSU’s Glenn College will oversee the sponsored research project with “diverse research perspectives around policing, community engagement, and civil rights,” said Dr. Trevor Brown, professor and dean of the Glenn College of Public Affairs.
Leaders said the scope of the review will likely cover: the city’s preparedness for the protests; how protestors’ rights “were or were not balanced with public safety concerns;” police preparedness, tactics and wellness; and internal communications as well as community relations.
The review will cover protests from late-May to mid-July, with the goal of giving recommendations to improve the work of the Columbus Division of Police.
The project is expected to take four to five months, and is separate from the independent criminal and administrative investigations taking place against specific police incidents related to the protests. The research group is aiming to deliver a report and recommendations by the end of the year.
Funding for the project will come out of the Division of Police Law Enforcement Contraband Seizure Fund, and will be voted on by Columbus City Council.
“I’m always looking forward to acquiring resources and creating meaningful reforms that will help us deliver on a promise to be here for every person in our community,” said Columbus Division of Police Chief Thomas Quinlan. “Sometimes to look forward we must pause and look backward and critically assess the methods used to achieve our mission.”
“I know firsthand that we did not live up to our community’s standards during the protest response,” said City Council President Shannon Hardin. “This operational review…will provide our community the chance to have external, objective researchers provide a clear-eyed analysis so that residents can safely make their voices heard in the future.”