According to a statement on social media Tuesday, The Columbus Division of Police has disbanded its embattled vice unit.
Interim Police Chief Tom Quinlan met with the remaining officers of the vice section and issued them assignment abolishment notices. Many officers and supervisors within the vice section have already voluntarily transferred to new assignments.
Mayor Andrew Ginther released a statement in response to the vice unit’s dissolution:
“I applaud Chief Quinlan’s decision to disband the Vice Unit, recognizing the Unit has lost the public’s trust,” said mayor Ginther, adding “I also commend the dedicated, hardworking officers of our Police Division who dedicate their lives to safer neighborhoods across Columbus. While change and reform are hard, they are necessary if we want to be the best of the best. I look forward to Chief Quinlan’s work to create new units that better serve the community’s needs. Our residents should be assured that laws like liquor violations will continue to be enforced with greater scrutiny and in the context of community-oriented policing.”
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The Columbus vice unit had faced scrutiny following a series of high-profile controversies in recent months.
Columbus vice officers Steven Rosser and Whitney Lancaster were suspended last year as part of an ongoing FBI investigation. Both were involved in the arrest of porn actress Stormy Daniels at an area strip club in July that was later deemed to be improper by CDP internal affairs.
Former Columbus vice detective Andrew Mitchell, who faces a list of charges including obstruction of justice, lying to the FBI, and tampering with witnesses, is accused of kidnapping women under the guise of arrest, forcing them to engage in sex acts in exchange for their freedom.
What are your thoughts on the vice squad getting the axe? Let us know in the comments.
BBQ got its deep hooks into me when I had a business in Austin, TX – you know, the home of dry rub, beef and sausage. I’ve indulged on pulled pork in NC topped with slaw and drenched in vinegar sauce and the savory of Memphis-style ribs to the sweetness of Kansas City. Columbus has its own mix of styles, like so many other cuisines that find a home in our midwest oasis.
How can someone go into a second-story bar and never come out? I’m talking about the disappearance of Brian Shaffer in 2006.
On March 31, Shaffer and his friend William “Clint” Florence went out to Ugly Tuna to celebrate the beginning of spring break. Shaffer was a second-year medical student and surely wanted to cut loose a bit after a stressful week of exams. The two then barhopped down High Street towards the Arena District, reportedly taking shots at every stop.
A little after midnight, Shaffer and Florence met up with a friend of Florence named Meredith, who gave them a ride back to Ugly Tuna. The three of them are seen on security camera ascending the escalator to the now-closed bar in the University Gateway around 1:15 AM on April 1.
Later, the camera captures Shaffer outside the bar talking to two women around 1:50 AM and then re-entering the bar. At this point, Shaffer was separated from his friends. The bar was closing and after searching and calling for Shaffer, Florence and Meredith decided to wait outside the bar for him to come out. After a while, the two left, assuming Shaffer had gone home.
But, the 27-year-old has never been seen or heard from since.
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Ugly Tuna had one entrance at the top of the escalator. Anyone entering or leaving from this would be caught on surveillance cameras. Investigators acknowledge the possibility that the cameras could have somehow missed Shaffer, though think it’s unlikely. Another improbably scenario they’ve entertained is Shaffer disguising himself and/or hiding from the cameras before exiting the bar. After all, the quality of security cameras circa 2006 was not the highest.
There was only one other way that Brian could have exited the bar that night, and it was from a back service door. Not only was this a door used exclusively by staff members, but it also opened to a construction site that would’ve posed a dangerous situation for a sober person, let alone someone who had been drinking all night.
It’s also important to note neither Shaffer’s cell phone, credit cards, or bank account have been used since.
The young man’s disappearance sparked an international search effort. Possible sightings started flowing in from Michigan, Texas, and even as far as Sweden. Eddie Vedder, the lead singer of Pearl Jam (one of Shaffer’s favorite bands and motivation for a tattoo) even took time out of the band’s set in Cincinnati to put out a call for information that may lead to Shaffer’s discovery.
Shaffer received excellent marks from the university, was close with his family who lived in Pickerington, and had a good relationship with his girlfriend, Alexis Waggoner. He and Waggoner had a spring break trip to Miami booked—confirming plans with her over the phone around 9:00 PM on March 31. She, along with their families and friends, were convinced Shaffer would probably propose later that year or maybe even on their trip to Miami.
For months after his disappearance, Waggoner called his phone every night. It went straight to voicemail every time except one night in September when she heard the phone ring three times. There was no answer, but the call pinged a tower in Hilliard. There was hope for the first time in months! Unfortunately, the cellular carrier divulged that the rings were likely a glitch in the system, rather than Shaffer powering on his phone.
Everyone in Shaffer’s life agreed to take a polygraph test in order to clear them of any suspicion, except Florence. Reportedly, Florence refused the test because he felt he had told police everything he knew about the night Shaffer disappeared.
By all accounts, he was the All-American boy with everything to live for which is why his disappearance has been so troubling all these years.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Brian Shaffer please contact the Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-645-8477, if requested you will remain anonymous.
Additional information: Prior to his disappearance, Shaffer’s mother Renee died of a rare form of bone cancer called myelodysplasia. And just after his disappearance, his father died in a freak accident involving a wind storm and a tree branch. The immediate Shaffer family is survived only by Brian’s younger brother Derek.
Thanks to biblical-level floods seen throughout the region this week, central Ohio was introduced to several new bodies of water where dry land once reigned.
Lake High Street. The 5th Ave River. The 71-S Memorial waterway. But perhaps the most impressive new water feature to grace our fair city is Alum Creek 2.0, AKA a flooded walking trail near Three Creeks Metro Park (soon to be renamed Four Creeks).
While all that H20 really cut down on foot traffic on the former path, one daring aquatic explorer—a rather large carp, featured in the parks department Instagram post below—was all too happy to hit the trail.
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The carp made it as far as the park’s picnic tables before running out of swimming space. Luckily, a hero (queue the music) was on hand to assist the struggling fish. According to 10TV, good samaritan William Boles made use of a nearby trashcan to scoop up the wayward carp and deposit it safely in the waters from whence it came.
Stay dry out there, folks, and if you see a person or animal in trouble in one of our newly-formed waterways, lend them a hand!