Columbus council approves new rules so Civilian Review Board can meet

Bizar Male

The Columbus City Council on Monday completed the work that voters started last November by unanimously passing new rules Monday for the Civilian Police Review Board’s operations, duties, training requirements and reporting obligations.

“This legislation allows the board to get started,” City Council President Shannon Hardin said as council members gathered in person in city hall chambers for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. 

The city council also approved a separate $1 million allocation funding the new Office of Inspector General, which will work directly for the review board conducting investigations into potential police officer misconduct.

In addition, the council approved a program outline aimed at channeling more city contracts to businesses owned by women and minorities, based on a 2019 study that found significant disparities for those groups in competing for city construction and professional services work. 

Civilian Police Review Board rules

The new 11-member civilian police oversight panel is expected to begin meeting early next month. Members will serve three-year staggered unpaid terms appointed by the mayor and confirmed by council, the legislation passed Monday says. Members will have to submit to background checks and undergo training in law-enforcement, criminal law, diversity and other topics.

Stone lions guard the headquarters of the Columbus Division of Police at 120 Marconi Boulevard Downtown.

The panel is empowered to “receive, initiate, review, and, if appropriate, to direct the Inspector General to investigate and prepare a report for review, complaints alleging misconduct and/or excessive use of force” by Columbus police officers. 

Because of the police union contract, the Division Internal Affairs Bureau will also continue to investigate all complaints, with the chief of police and public safety director responsible for carrying out discipline. The new civilian review board’s investigation will be parallel to the Division’s, and advisory only, as the board has no power to discipline officers.

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