Police, neighborhood focus of on-line panel of Columbus City League, YWCA

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Columbus will host the first of three virtual panel discussions held across the country on Wednesday to help rebuild trust between the community and the police.

The forum will take place online on Wednesday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Livestream from the Lincoln Theater and jointly hosted by the Columbus Urban League and YWCA Columbus.

The panel is one of three nationally sponsored panels by the National Urban League to discuss Rebuilding Trust, one of the 21 pillars of the National Urban League’s Platform for Criminal Justice Reform.

A panel of national experts will attend Wednesday’s event, including Cedric Alexander, a national police expert, who will share ideas tailored to Columbus.

Panel will have Columbus focus

Local panelists include Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant; Janet Jackson, chairman of the Columbus Civil Police Verification Committee; Victor Davis, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church on the Near East Side; and Sean Walton, a local civil rights attorney who is a senior member of the Columbus Police Accountability Project. Walton has also represented families of people killed by police.

The panel will be hosted by Andrew Kinsey of WBNS-10TV and the event will be available to the public as a livestream on 10TV’s YouTube channel.

Columbus was apparently selected to host one of the panel discussions as relations between townspeople and the police department had ongoing community issues.

On Thursday Mayor Andrew Ginther announced the The US Department of Justice had accepted a request from Mayor and City Attorney Zach Klein to conduct a comprehensive review of the police department’s training and practice with regard to racial prejudice.

Klein said this review will be different from the DOJ’s reviews in other cities – such as the Minneapolis police investigation into the murder of George Floyd Jr. – and will be a way to gather expertise on best practices from across the country.

The DOJ has agreed to join as part of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office in Columbus and there are currently no legal disputes.

Police Chief Elaine Bryant said the DOJ will work on “potential focus opportunities,” including policy review, officer training, technology and an early warning system to try to identify officers who may need help before a critical incident occurs .

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Attorney Sean Walton, a founding member of the Columbus Police Accountability Project (CPAP), which has represented families of blacks killed by police, criticized the focus of the DOJ review, saying that it “does not address the injustice that is inflicted on citizens from . Columbus has been inflicted for years and does not lead to responsibility for such bad deeds. “

Walton called the DOJ’s proposed involvement an “egregious misstep and missed opportunity”.

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The Columbus Police Department has been involved in a number of high profile incidents over the past 18 months that have attracted criticism from the community, particularly from black residents, while others have assisted the police in responding to some protests that have turned violent and property damage resulted in vandalism and vandalism.

In December, former Columbus police officer Adam Coy shot and killed Andre Hill, a 47-year-old unarmed black man, in a garage on the Northwest Side. Coy was later released by the Columbus Police Department and charged with murder and ruthless homicide. His move to move has been denied and is expected to be tried next year.

In response to an emergency call in April about an attempted knife attack, Columbus police officer Nicholas Reardon shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant outside a foster home on the southeast side. Bryant had a knife in hand and appeared to be brandishing it at a young woman holding a dog when he fatally shot her, according to a body camera released by the police. The case is still under review by the Franklin County Attorney’s Office.

Also in April, U.S. District Court judge Algenon Marbley issued an injunction against the Columbus Police Department in a lawsuit filed by more than two dozen protesters relating to allegations of inappropriate and excessive police violence during protests it happened downtown in late May and early June 2020 in response to the assassination of George Floyd Jr. in Minneapolis.

Bethany Bruner is a public safety, breaking news and police reporter.

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@bethany_bruner