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Columbus Welcomes New Police Recruits Class As Departures Mount

Mayor Ginther speaking with police recruits
Nick Evans
Mayor Ginther speaking with police recruits

Columbus leaders welcomed a new class of police recruits Monday as the division faces significant departures.

No profession made it through the past year unscathed. But with backlash to how police handled last year’s protests on top of the stresses of COVID-19, Columbus police saw a big jump in departures. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said that staffing deficit raises the stakes for recruiting.

“Well clearly it’s significant, but it’s not unlike what we’re seeing in cities across the country,” Ginther said. “A lot of big cities are seeing hundreds and hundreds of folks, but 130 separations in a given year is significant here. Generally it’s somewhere between 80 and 100. So it makes these classes so critically important.”

The mayor said the new class is part of broader effort to turn over a new leaf when it comes to training and recruiting.

"These classes are the most diverse that we've had in recent memory,” Ginther said. “Over half are women and people of color, nearly half are minorities. And we think that's important, because we believe the division of police should reflect the beautiful diversity of this community, in addition to the changes in training around anti-bias, implicit bias, de-escalation."

New recruits will graduate next January after 31 weeks of training. Another class already in progress will graduate next month. But even if every recruit in both classes makes it through, they will still fall short of replacing the 130 officers who left the force last year.

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.