x
Breaking News
More () »

Arbitrator: City violated union contract by hiring outside agency to investigate Columbus police

The City of Columbus hired outside law firm BakerHostetler in in the summer of 2020 to investigate the police response to protests.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An arbitrator ruled on Wednesday that the City of Columbus violated the contract with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #9 when it hired an outside agency to investigate possible police misconduct.

The City of Columbus hired outside law firm BakerHostetler in the summer of 2020 to investigate the police response to protests.

The city's initial contract said "no more than $50,000" would be spent, but City Council members later approved increasing that amount multiple times to a cost of no more than $550,000. In total, the investigation ended up costing $615,000. 

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther hired the firm in a no-bid contract to investigate claims of abuse. The city said the no-bid process was needed because of the 90-day deadline to complete the investigations. 

In a statement sent to 10TV, Ginther's office explained the city did not have the capacity to investigate the more than 1,000 reported complaints, citing a ruling later sent down from a federal judge who found police "ran amok" during the protests. 

"We simply do not believe that this investigation violated the contract, and we will appeal the decision," the statement reads in part. 

The BakerHostetler investigation resulted in 49 reports, some of which involved multiple complaints. Of the 49 reports, eight involved sustained allegations and one of the eight resulted in discipline. That officer was given documented counseling for not filing the proper paperwork.

Three allegations were withdrawn, 28 were not sustained, 19 were unfounded and five were exonerated. 

The arbitrator ruled the 2017-2020 contract agreement between the city and the union precluded the city from hiring an independent contractor to perform internal investigations of police officers. Arbitrator Margaret Nancy Johnson wrote in her decision the city is to cease and desist from employing such an entity to investigate complaints regarding police officer misconduct.   

The city said it is assessing how this week's ruling impacts other ongoing investigations.

In a separate investigation, the city also hired retired FBI agent Rick Wozniak and former Franklin County Prosecutor Kathleen Garber to look into any potential criminal wrongdoing by Columbus police during the protests. That investigation resulted in criminal charges being filed against three Columbus police officers for alleged misconduct.

You can read the full statement from Ginther's office below: 

“The city utilized BakerHostetler for a number of reasons:

The public demanded an independent investigation apart from police internal affairs. And later, a federal judge ruled that officers “ran amok” during the protests.

Because the protests were an “all hands on deck” event, the great majority of Internal Affairs personnel were actively involved in the division’s protest response. Neither Internal Affairs nor the Safety Director’s Office had the capacity to investigate the more than 1,000 complaints that came into the “Report CPD” inbox. Per the FOP contract, such investigations must be completed within 90 days. 

We simply do not believe that this investigation violated the contract, and we will appeal the decision.”

Paid Advertisement