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City council approves adding officers' names to alternative uniforms, limiting use of military-style equipment

The proposals will be sent to Mayor Andrew Ginther’s desk for his signature.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus City Council has approved two pieces of legislation designed to bring changes to the city’s police department.

The first ordinance will require officers’ names and badge numbers to be placed on alternative uniforms and riot gear.

The legislation, proposed by Councilmember Rob Dorans, is in response to complaints regarding police misconduct during the summer protests in 2020, according to the city council.

Dorans said that the legislation would improve trust between the community and police while also allowing transparency and accountability.

"I also truly believe that this legislation is a benefit to officers as well, moving forward there will be no potential for an officer to be misidentified and wrongfully accused of misconduct because of lack of identification," he said.

Doran added that the legislation will remove doubt from the community about who is interacting with the public.

The second ordinance proposed by President Pro Tempore Elizabeth Brown would limit the use of military-style equipment and tactics used by police. That equipment includes chemical agents, helicopters, explosives and pyrotechnics.

Brown said the ordinance is based on feedback from both police and city residents and that it will support interactions and trust between them.

"Across our city and spanning nearly every point of view, we are all in search of safe communities for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors," she said.

The proposals will be sent to Mayor Andrew Ginther’s desk for his signature.

Criminal defense attorney Sam Shamansky who has represented the police in the past and is currently representing a protestor who filed a lawsuit against the city says more identification is always a good thing.

“The identification is a good thing, the second prong, limiting their resources is a more questionable approach,” Shamansky said. “It’s difficult for everyday people to understand what it’s like to deal with – call it a mob, call it a crowd, call it whatever you want, but it’s a harrowing situation and we thrust police officers into it. And there is no way you train for that.”

“As society becomes more angry and polarized and difficult, people act out in many different ways and there has to be a more appropriate way to control these situations,” Shamansky said.

Unless police are abusing the use of tactics, Shamansky doesn’t believe the equipment should be limited.

The city council will vote on both legislation on Monday.

The city has already paid out $5.75 million in a legal settlement with protestors who alleged they were hurt by police through use of force and chemical agents like pepper spray.

As part of that settlement, a federal judge issued a permanent injunction barring Columbus Police for using chemical agents and certain uses of force against non-violence protestors.

10TV has reached out to the Columbus Division of Police for comment.

Brian Steel, executive vice president of the Columbus chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police said the union supports the law enforcement officers.

You can read the full statement below:

"The FOP is more concerned with issues such as shamefully low bonds for violent offenders, continued rise in violent crime, and lack of respect for the rule of law in our city.

"We support our local law enforcement officers and thank them for their service during these challenging times."

Columbus Public Safety released the following statement:

“The legislation simply codifies the many police reforms in place for months, including those ordered by Judge Algenon Marbley. Our number one focus is reducing violent crime, and nothing in the ordinance will limit police or their ability to keep neighborhoods safe. We will continue to provide police with all the tools and technology they need - including maintaining our helicopter fleet - to address violent crime, while also continuing to build trust with the community.”

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