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Columbus Mayor Issuing Order On Investigating Police Use-Of-Force Cases

Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins
Associated Press

Mayor Andrew Ginther is issuing an executive order requiring all fatal police use-of-force cases and cases of death in police custody to be referred to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

“Third-party, independent investigations into police use of force are critical to building trust in law enforcement, and having BCI conduct investigations will be critical to restoring confidence in the Columbus Division of Police,” Ginther said in a statement.

According to a press release, the executive order will outline the justification for referring these types of cases for independent investigation. The mayor has asked Columbus City Council to codify the order in city law as quickly as possible.

“The full implementation of Columbus Safety Advisory Commission’s recommendations is not going to be easy, but this is an important step toward long-term reforms and rebuilding trust with residents," said Columbus Council president Shannon Hardin in a statement.

Earlier this year, the Community Safety Advisory Commission released a report with 80 recommendations for reforming the Columbus Division of Police. Commission members on Wednesday briefed City Council on those recommendations, which include updated training for officers and revised protocols on crowd control.

Ginther plans to sign the executive order this week. The Department of Public Safety will enter into a "memorandum of understanding" with the office of Attorney General Dave Yost, who has agreed to accept Columbus cases referred to the BCI.

"We do more of these than anyone else - by the book and only a search for the truth," Yost said on Twitter.

In the wake of recent protests over police violence, activists have pushed Columbus Council and the City Attorney to demand a citizen review board overseeing police use-of-force cases. Such a group is limited by the current police contract, which expires this year.

Ginther said he will form a working group by July 1, and hopes to seat the board by the end of the year.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.