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Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan Steps Down At Mayor Ginther's Request

Tom Quinlan was demoted in February as Columbus Police chief.
Adora Namigadde
Tom Quinlan was selected in December 2019 as the new Columbus Police Chief.

After a little more than a year in charge, Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan is stepping down at the request of Mayor Andrew Ginther.

In an emailed statement, Ginther wrote the Quinlan could not implement change within the department.

“It became clear to me that Chief Quinlan could not successfully implement the reform and change I expect and that the community demands. Columbus residents have lost faith in him and in Division’s ability to change on its own," Ginther said.

The statement says that Quinlan agreed to step back and serve as deputy chief.

Deputy Chief Mike Woods will head the department as the city begins a nationwide search for a permanent chief.

Quinlan said in a statement he respects the decision to make a change and will support the new chief. 

"The opportunity to serve as your Chief of Police has been the honor of my career, While I very much hoped to continue in that role, I respect the Safety Director’s decision, and the community’s need to go in a different direction," Quinlan said.

The chief's resignation comes after allegations of police misconduct in response to protests this summer, the shooting of Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man, before Christmas, and consistent calls for reform of the department.

The People's Justice Project Organizer Tammy Fournier Alsaada said she looks forward to the city searching for a new chief.

"With Andre Hill, the cameras were turned off. The things that Chief Quinlan assured us would get us to transparency and accountability were not being implemented," Alsaada said. "And that called into question for many of us whether or not he had control over his police force."

She sat on his chief advisory panel. She said she thinks Quinlan did not do enough to address racial issues in his tenure as chief.

"One of the things I think that really allowed me to withhold my support for Chief Quinlan is we were never able to get to a place where he would acknowledge the problems and challenges that exist within the Division of Police," Alsaada said.

Quinlan was promoted to the position in December 2019 following a nationwide search. He had served as the interim chief since February 2019 following the retirement of Kim Jacobs.

Quinlan first joined Columbus Police in 1989 and has been a deputy chief since 2013.

While serving as interim chief, Ginther said Quinlan was the "change agent" that the department needed. One of his first major decisions as interim chief was to abolish the controversial Vice Unit, which remains under FBI investigation.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.
Nick Houser leads the digital media team and oversees all things digital, including wosu.org, digital content, the WOSU Public Media Mobile App, social media, enewsletters, podcasts and on-demand video.
Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.