Columbus ‘Reimagining Public Safety Initiative’ isn’t working, says FOP

Citing the shooting of a U.S. deputy marshal the day after the murder of two children and a young man, the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge 9 on Wednesday criticized the Columbus city leadership for their approach to public safety.

Brian A. Steel, vice president of the local FOP lodge, which represents 4,300 law enforcement officers in Columbus and Franklin Counties, made a statement on behalf of the union on Wednesday afternoon offering thoughts and prayers to the unpublished U.S. Vice Marshal was shot dead earlier in the day during a raid by a federal work group looking for a serious robbery suspect.

“This violent encounter is another example of the lawlessness that plagues our city,” Steel wrote in the statement.

“This heinous act came less than 24 hours after a triple homicide that killed two children,” he noted, referring to the deaths of two siblings, ages 9 and 6, in a targeted vehicle attack on Tuesday evening were fatally shot in a parking lot at the Winchester Lakes Apartments complex on the southeast side of Columbus near the Winchester Canal. The statement made no mention of the death of the young man, who was also killed.

Steel said Columbus city leaders last year emphasized their Reimagining Public Safety initiative, which is designed to help resolve urban violence and complaints about police activities.

The initiative, which Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and the city council say was based on surveys and submissions from city residents, included the establishment of a civilian police review committee and an independent inspector general to investigate allegations of police misconduct, alternative 911 responses like sending from mental health or drug addiction counselors to nonviolent calls and programs such as youth intervention and mentoring to address the root causes of violence.

“It’s not working,” stated Steel. “Our murder rate continues to rise year after year.”

In fact, Tuesday night’s three deaths bring the total number of Columbus murders in 2021 to a new record of 186 by late Wednesday afternoon, with more than three weeks left.

“If law and order are not restored,” Steel warned, “this trend will result in the loss of even more innocent lives.”

Ginther and city council officials were not immediately available Wednesday evening for comment.

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