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Columbus City Council Drops Plan To Not Hire Police Recruit Class

Columbus Police vehicles outside the division headquarters.
David Holm

Columbus City Council has dropped a plan to delay the hiring of police recruits. Council president Shannon Hardin abandoned the proposal on Monday, saying he lacked the votes needed to pass the measure as part of the city budget.

Columbus City Council amended the city's 2021 budget on Monday night to eliminate the measure.

Following the last minute change of plans, on the surface, city leaders seem to have gotten what they wanted from the budget. Hardin’s $10 million Reimagining Public Safety fund is intact. And the summer class of recruits demanded by Columbus Police, Mayor Andrew Ginther and two council members, Mitchell Brown and Priscilla Tyson, will go forward.

But the episode that played out Monday night demonstrates divisions, and Council member Shayla Favor gave voice to those frustrations.

“I have stated this before and I reaffirm today, that we must take a drastic approach to reform within Columbus policing to adequately protect and serve all of our residents,” Favor said. "Business as usual is not the answer.”

In introducing a new amendment to restore funding for this June’s police recruiting class, Hardin said risking the rest of the city budget wasn't worth it.

“Over the weekend we hit an impasse. We need six votes to pass the budget. I’ve explored compromises, I’ve proposed alternatives, but the budget will not pass in its current form,” Hardin said. “To continue fighting over $2.5 million in a $1 billion budget would delay all progress, programs, spending and even paying phone bills.”

Tyson argued the recruiting class is the most diverse on record, and said holding off on hiring wouldn’t solve the division’s problems.

“Black people being murdered by law enforcement officers—it’s not O.K., and I unequivocally stand against the atrocities that happened against Black people,” Tyson said. “However, delaying the class will not solve that issue.”

Because Council amended the budget, the final vote has been delayed until next week.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.