Council to Take Up ‘Andre’s Law,’ CPD to Get $4.5M Body Camera Upgrade
Columbus City Council will take up Andre’s Law, a law proposed by the family of Andre Hill, the 47-year-old Black man shot by a Columbus police officer in December.
Mayor Andrew Ginther announced in a Thursday media briefing the taking up of the law by the city, which would require changes to the Columbus City Code. Council will introduce the legislation on Monday, Jan. 25.
The law would require the activation of body-worn cameras during any call, enforcement action, or other situation outlined in the directives of the Columbus Division of Police. Council President Shannon Hardin said the division is currently working to improve its directives by “tightening the rules and closing loopholes.”
The law would also require police to request aid for use of force that results in serious bodily harm from Emergency Medical Services or the rendering of medical aid by an officer, under certain circumstances.
In cases of “egregious and willful” violation of the new chapter on rendering aid, the city could pursue resolutions beyond discipline and could seek criminal charges.
“Andre’s Law will not solve all police violence. But it’s one more step in the right direction,” said Hardin. “To ensure we know what is happening on the scene based on bodycam footage and ensure that if residents are hurt, police officers are there to render the aid. And if officers don’t comply, there can be greater accountability.”
Mayor Ginther also announced the Columbus Division of Police would be getting a body camera upgrade, to address some of the issues on display in the Hill shooting. He also briefly mentioned the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office would pursue installing body cameras of their own.
Franklin County officers have previously not been outfitted with the cameras. This issue became apparent in the shooting death of Casey Goodson Jr. by a Franklin County police officer late last year.
“Bottom line: If this technology was in place in December, we would have higher resolution video and audio evidence leading up to and including the shooting death of Andre Hill,” said Ginther.
Mayor Ginther said $4.5 million will be invested in new body cameras that will provide increased resolution and clarity, can automatically activate once officers exit a vehicle, and can extend the cameras’ lookback feature, which would increase the amount of video available before an officer turns the body camera on.
Mayor Ginther said Council would identify if more resources are necessary. He assured the upgraded cameras would be installed sometime in 2021.
The upgrade and other portions of Andre’s Law will require renegotiating the city’s memorandum of understanding with the Fraternal Order of Police.
As the city continues to strive for the best deal possible during the negotiation of the FOP contract, which expires this year, President Hardin said details of the law may have to be amended.
“We aim to pass this piece of legislation in short order thereafter,” he said.