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Kasich proposes “sensible” gun-law reforms, Ginther weighs in

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Our governor has come up with a “sensible, consensus approach to protecting Ohioans from gun violence,” in the form of six firearm law alterations.

Gov. John Kaisch is asking state lawmakers to the following things according to The Dispatch:

  • Create a gun-violence protection order to allow families and law enforcement officers to ask a judge to order the temporary seizure of guns from people proven to be a threat to themselves or others.
  • Update state law to mirror federal law to create an automatic prohibition against possession of a gun by those convicted of domestic violence or subject to a protection order.
  • Incorporate an anticipated federal ban on bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic rifles to effectively be converted to full automatic fire, into state law.
  • Strengthen state law to specifically prohibit so-called “strawman” transactions in which a person buys a gun for felons and others disqualified from possessing guns. A man is charged a federal crime for acting as a “strawman” in purchasing and providing a gun to the man who fatally shot two Westerville police officers last month.
  • Prohibit the sale of armor-piercing ammunition considered a threat to law to enforcement officers.
  • Close gaps in the state criminal background system to ensure court records of convictions are promptly delivered to more quickly flag felons and others who cannot buy guns or receive a concealed-carry permit.

If you’ll notice, Kasich did not propose a ban on assault-style weapons or lowering gun magazine capacity or an increase in the age requirement to purchase a firearm. Personally, he supports a ban on assault rifles but believes the aforementioned six proposals are more likely to go the distance.

Here is Mayor Ginther’s response to Kaisch:

“We are encouraged by Governor Kasich’s meaningful proposals to stem the tide of gun violence, many of which align with our priorities for Columbus. We continue to ask Governor Kasich to support cities’ rights to enact laws that are in the best interest of our families and first responders, such as regulating assault weapons, requiring universal background checks, and expanding protections for all victims of domestic violence.”

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Hate group discussion gives historical context to policing

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Current CPD screening process explained

Columbus City Councilmember and Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee Shayla Favor held an informative and at times eye-opening public hearing regarding the expansion of hate group affiliation background checks. 

Although no legislation was announced during the discussion, the point of the meeting was to have educational and collaborative conversations with experts in the field of systematic racism, psychology, and policing. Favor did mention that legislation defining more strict background checks for police officers potentially in hate groups or possibly affiliating with those groups would be drafted by the end of the month.

At the time of publication, Columbus City Council couldn’t say if a Columbus police officer was affiliated with a hate group.

Two-plus hours of presentations held by those representing education (Dr. Judson L. Jefferies, an OSU professor in the Department of African American and African Studies), civil service (Amy DeLong, executive director of the Civil Service Commission), and police (Richard Blunt II, Safety Manager of the Background Investigations segment of the CPD) preceded public testimony.

During the discussion, bits of historical facts and information were inserted giving a more robust understanding to the context of the topic. For example, there are 1,000 to 1,100 hate groups in the United States that we’re able to identify, according to Jefferies. Jefferies also pointed out that there is less concern about the number of members, and more concern about the number of supporters. 

He also mentioned that in the 1960s, police would post ads to recruit Southern-minded people to become police officers in Chicago and Los Angeles. Jefferies did acknowledge that being a police officer is the hardest job of any street bureaucrat because they see the worst of the human condition.

The current screening process of the CPD, as it pertains to hate group affiliation, was presented by Blunt. This is what it looks like::

  • Personal History Statement (PSH)—Undetected Acts
    • At any time in your life have you ever committed a hate crime?
    • Are you now, or have you ever been a member or associate of a criminal enterprise, street gang, or any group that advocates violence against individuals because of their race, religion, political affiliation, ethnic origin, nationality, gender, sexual preference, or disability?
    • Has any member of your family ever been a member of, or associated with any, street gang or organized criminal enterprise such as outlaw motorcycle groups, prison gangs, or tagging crews?
    • Do you have, or have you ever had, a tattoo signifying membership in, or affiliation with, a criminal enterprise, street gang, or any group that advocates violence against individuals because of their race, religion, political affiliation, ethnic origin, nationality, or gender.
  • Tattoo Policy 
    • Shall have no visible tattoos on the head, neck, or hands 
    • Shall have no tattoos that depict obscene, gang-related, extremist or otherwise offensive images, which may bring the Division into disrepute 
    • Visible and exposed tattoos are photographed
  • Polygraph Examination
    • Taken to an ID UNIT where they are fingerprinted and taken photographs of their visible and exposed tattoos
    • Pre-interview to meet with background investigator and go over PSH with candidate one more time
    • Taken to polygraph unit where they answer over 100 questions before being hooked up to a polygraph, some being:
      • To your knowledge, have you, your spouse, significant other, any member of your family, or close friends ever been associated with any subversive, radical, or terrorist organization, such as hate groups or gangs?
      • Have you ever posted offensive, derogatory, or racist material to social media?
    • Right before the polygraph, the candidate is given four documents called mind maps, which include falsifying information, illegal substance use, sex offenses, serious crimes (hate crimes, racially-motivated crimes, gang membership, terrorist sympathizer), and to tell the interviewee if anything comes to mind that the candidate hasn’t already discussed.
    • Once hooked up to the polygraph, they will be asked if they are concealing any of those crimes, and will come up with one of three results:
      • Deception indicated
      • No deception indicated
      • Inconclusive

With that being known, there are definitely improvements to be made in how the CPD does intensive background checks when it comes to hate group affiliation. By the end of July, the Columbus City Council hopes to have legislation drafted on hate-group screening.

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Ginther names two independent entities for administrative and criminal review of CPD

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Mayor Andrew J. Ginther addressed masked members of the media at the Michael B. Coleman Government Center on Wednesday. In the mayor’s address, Ginther gave an update on who would be heading the investigations into police response to protests. 

“I challenge the FOP in joining the community in demanding change and reform,” Ginther said during the press conference.

Ned Pettus, Director of Public Safety, introduced Ginther before he announced the two independent entities charged with completing an administrative and criminal review of the Columbus Division of Police.

The law firm BakerHostetler is being brought in to review cases that require administrative action outside of police policy and are open for discipline with the CPD. So far 40 incidents have been identified for referral to the law firm.

A professional investigator, also a retired FBI agent, will be brought in to review 16 incidents that may result in criminal charges. The name of the professional investigator has not yet been disclosed.

Although Ginther mentioned that the images of the use of pepper spray by the CPD “don’t live up to community or (his) standards,” he did support the continued use of it being dispersed amongst peaceful protestors who were impeding traffic. Ginther did bring up that the city has encouraged peaceful protestors to stay on sidewalks.

Ginther also announced the workgroup that would help establish the future civilian review board, which is slated  for creation by the end of the year Those city officials include:

·        Jasmine Ayres, community organizer, People's Justice Project

·        Fred Benton, attorney

·        Bo Chilton, President and CEO, Impact Community Action

·        Dr. Lewis Dodley, IMPACT Community Action

·        Stephanie Hightower, President and CEO of Columbus Urban League

·        Pastor Frederick LaMarr, President, Baptist Pastors Conference

·        Kent Markus, General/Bar Counsel, Columbus Bar Association

·        Jonathan McCombs, Dean of College of Health and Public Administration, Franklin University

·        Ismail Mohammad, attorney, Ismail Law Office

·        Densil R. Porteous, Chair, Create Columbus

·        Aslyne Rodriguez, Director of Government Affairs, COTA

·        Janay Stevens, President, John Mercer Langston Bar Association, Associate, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP

·        Kyle Strickland, Senior Legal Analyst, Kirwin Institute

·        Erin Synk, Director of Government Relations, LNE Group

·        Nana Watson, President, NAACP Columbus

·        Anthony Wilson, Vice President National Organization of Black Law Enforcement - Columbus Chapter

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Elizabeth Brown hosts virtual public hearing on demilitarization of police

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President Pro Tempore and Finance Committee Chair Elizabeth Brown and several other Columbus City Council members held a virtual finance committee public hearing Tuesday afternoon that lasted long into the evening. The hearing was held to “discuss equipment purchased for and allowed to be purchased for by the police department.”

“I believe that in this country...we strive to have community-based safety forces,” Brown said during the hearing. “I believe for the protection of our residents, for that to exist, there should be a covenant between police and people that we are on the same side.”

In 2015, then-President Barack Obama issued an executive order limiting the amount of military-grade gear going to police departments. In that executive order, there were two lists of military-grade weapons: prohibited and controlled.

In 2017, President Donald Trump rescinded that executive order, effectively opening the door to the militarization of police departments across the country.

Deputy Chief Michael Woods thoroughly listed the use of certain military-style equipment, not limited to weapons, and physical purchases by the Columbus Division of Police. Deputy Woods outlined the equipment that the CPD doesn’t possess as well.

Some of the prohibited items discussed included: 

  • Trekked armored vehicles – none owned by CPD
  • Weaponized aircraft vessels /vehicles of any kind – none owned by CPD
  • Firearms and ammunition of 50 caliber or higher – none owned by CPD
  • Grenade launchers – none, but do use gas guns ($936 each)
  • Camouflage uniforms – CPD wears a woodland pattern ($316/uniform)

Some of the controlled items discussed included:

  • Helicopters – CPD ranks higher in helicopter fleet (six helicopters)
  • Riot shields and batons – haven’t purchased new ones in 15 years ($200 each)
  • Tasers
  • M16 military rifles and gas guns
  • Armored vehicles

There are arguments to be made on both sides when it comes to using military-grade equipment. For example, the roar of helicopters may incite fear in communities, but they provide valuable community resources in locating missing persons or during natural disasters. And if their use is valid, is six excessive and even wasteful?

Columbus residents were encouraged to submit written testimony to Brown’s office and participate in the virtual press conference. Columbus City Council received an outpouring of community engagement, including 906 written comments and 69 speaker testimonies. Many spoke in length about the unprovoked and violent force used by the police since the protests started at the end of May.

“The overwhelming public engagement we received is more evidence of the urgent need to think differently about how we keep every resident safe in our city. I’m grateful to the nearly 1,000 people who lent their voices. I also appreciate (the) Division of Police personnel for providing information to Council and residents — they answered some important questions, and we will continue to ask more questions. Creating public policy is not just putting words on paper; it’s about making a difference in people’s lives. We are all better prepared for that job by having given residents the mic last night.”

President Pro Tempore and Finance Committee Chair Elizabeth Brown said in a statement to (614)


Those who spoke included the Department of Finance Director Joe Lombardi, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Chair Mitchell J. Brown, Director of Public Safety Ned Pettus, and several other council members.

Before the list of prohibited and controlled equipment was outlined by Woods, Lombardi went through the process that the city goes through when setting a specific budget. Here is the procedure for 2021:

  • The budget process begins in June, and the Department of Finance puts together target budgets; target budgets are based on estimates of available resources from following fiscal year
  • A series of meetings will take place between August and October
  • Budget is adopted in February

(614) reached out to the CPD for comment after the press conference and had not received a response at the time of publishing.

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