Columbus City Council seeks to demilitarize police in Ohio’s capital

Officers and protesters in a cloud of tear gas thrown by Columbus police during protests in May 2020. Photo: Megan Jelinger/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Columbus City Council will vote tonight to restrict the use of “military type equipment and tactics” by the Police Division.

Why is this important: City leaders want to demilitarize the police department as part of ongoing efforts to restore confidence in local law enforcement.

Details: The order, which is expected to be approved, would prohibit police from using non-lethal force like tear gas and rubber bullets on nonviolent protesters.

  • It would also restrict the use of explosives, pyrotechnics and armored vehicles, except for tactical use such as that of SWAT teams.

What it says: The order states that “the militarization of police conflicts with the mission to protect and serve, undermines public trust and creates barriers to resident officer relationships that are necessary for law enforcement to support.” public safety”.

Rollback: Police used pepper spray and fireworks in 2020 to enforce curfews during widespread protests across the country following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

  • The Columbus City Council acted that summer to ban the department from using certain equipment, such as armored tracked vehicles, large-caliber weapons, riot batons, and camouflage uniforms.
  • Investigations into the department’s conduct of protests, charges against three officers and an overwhelming public vote establishing a police oversight board all followed the protests.

Separately, City Council will vote tonight on an ordinance requiring officers to wear badge numbers and name tags while on duty.

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