The civilian review board working group released their final recommendations on Wednesday to Mayor Andrew Ginther and City Council President Shannon Hardin, both of whom accepted the recommendations.
The 17 recommendations — resulting from seven meetings between August and December — are broken down into two categories: composition and structure, and functions and powers. They cover everything from how many members should exist on the board, who should appoint members, qualifications for the inspector general as well as member diversity, training and investigative powers, among other things.
(Read the full list of recommendations at the bottom of this story.)
“With the civilian review board working group’s recommendations in-hand now, council will hold additional hearings at the start of the new year,” Shannon Hardin, city council president, said during a press conference. “Rebuilding trust and improving accountability in the division of police is a critical component to re-imagining safety here.”
Beginning today, the city is accepting applications from residents and non-residents to the civilian review board, Ginther also announced during the conference. The application can be found .
Glenn McEntyre, assistant director of the Department of Public Safety, wrote in an email to Matter on December 7 that the city expects “to seat the board in the first weeks of 2021."
A civilian review board was recommended by the city’s 2018 Safety Advisory Commission, a group separate from the current review board working group. The 16 members of the current working group were seated in July, a month after in Columbus.
And in November, Columbus voters took that reform a step further by overwhelmingly giving the City the power to create the civilian review board, a group meant to investigate individual instances of police misconduct and use-of-force allegations.
Within that charter was a commitment by City Council to create a budget for the board that will not be reduced unless “financial circumstances dictate an overall reduction to the City’s budget,” the charter states.
Council has allocated a $1 million budget for the civilian review board, Hardin said, but no members will be paid — only the inspector general and their investigators.
"It will not be a paid position,” Ginther said during the press conference. “We expect the inspector general and his or her investigators will be full-time, but the civilian review board members will not.”
Ginther also said during the press conference that not only will the review board be racially diverse, it will also seat members of varying economic status. When asked how Ginther and City Council will ensure low-income residents or non-residents will have a fair opportunity to join the board if they will not receive compensation, Robin Davis, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, reiterated Ginther’s comments and added this in an emailed statement:
“The board will not require full-time participation and will not preclude them from jobs.”
After the applications are reviewed by Ginther and City Council in the coming month, Mayor Ginther will begin making his recommendations to the civilian review board, and council will approve the appointment Once the board is fully seated, the board — which is tasked with investigating individual instances of police misconduct — will then appoint an inspector general, whose role is to look into broader policies and patterns of behavior within the division.
The recommendations from the working group also include notes about the inspector general. Read the full text of the recommendations:
Editor’s note: Jasmine Ayres is a member of the civilian review board work group and also a board member of Matter’s parent organization, Grey Matter Media.