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Columbus City Council Approves Rules For Police Oversight Board

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Columbus’ new civilian review board for police can get to work after City Council approved rules for the board created to provide more oversight of officers on Monday.

The rules for the 11-member board states they will receive and investigate complaints of alleged police misconduct, and then make recommendations for discipline to the Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety if they deem it necessary.

The board cannot discipline any officers itself.

The ordinance also states the board has sole authority to name a chair every year. The first chair, Janet Jackson, was appointed by Mayor Andrew Ginther.

Speaking at a townhall meeting about the rules last week, Jackson said she wanted to get to work as soon as possible, aiming for an early-August start date.

“Even though the charter only calls for four meetings a year, board members get ready,” Jackson said. “Because we’re going to be meeting much more frequently than that to get ourselves prepared to do the heavy lifting of this work.”

The board will have to develop its training program, and then go through it, before it begins its review work in earnest.

All of these developments are happening as the city continues to negotiate a labor contract with the Fraternal Order of Police. Under the current contract, officers have significant protections if they choose not to comply with investigations.

Columbus voters overwhelmingly approved the creation of the civilian review board and a new inspector general position after police's heavy-handed response to last summer's Black Lives Matter protests.

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.