DOJ to Review Columbus, Ohio Police Department

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Following a series of fatal police shootings of Black people and an aggressive response to last summer’s protests, the U.S. Justice Department will review practices of the Columbus, Ohio police department, the StarTribune reports. Unlike most cities under Justice Department review, Columbus requested federal involvement days after a white officer fatally shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said the city needs DOJ help because of “fierce opposition” to reform within the agency: an April Columbus City Council report criticized both the police department and city leaders for the force’s unpreparedness for protests following the death of George Floyd.

But the announced DOJ investigation was quickly criticized by advocates for more widespread reform, many of whom argued Ginther should have requested a special review that carries with it the possibility of court-ordered oversight. Sean Walton, an attorney who has represented the families of several Black people fatally shot by Columbus police, said accepting a review by the community policing office was an intentional attempt to ignore the Columbus department’s “abusive history in an effort to avoid a negative national spotlight coming to Columbus.” Since taking office, Ginther has overseen several reforms, including the deployment of police body cameras. In January, interim Chief Thomas Quinlan was forced out after Ginther said he had lost confidence in the chief’s ability to make changes to the department.

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