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Columbus police looking at options to increase patrol officers amid staffing shortage

Police Chief Elaine Bryant sent out an email to the division saying she is looking at all options, including possibly moving detectives to patrol.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Staffing levels are at a concerning level for the Columbus Division of Police.

Police Chief Elaine Bryant sent out an email to the division saying she is looking at all options, including possibly moving detectives to patrol.

The Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge #9 President Keith Ferrell said especially with the crime rate, officers need to be hired immediately. The police chief said for the first time ever, the division is considering hiring from outside agencies.

“In my professional opinion, we need 300 people almost immediately,” argued Ferrell.

As crime rates have increased, the number of sworn officers has dropped.

“We're committed to doing everything we can and putting the full resources we have in this city behind making our neighborhoods safer,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.

On Tuesday, Chief Bryant sent a letter to division members saying she is looking at all options, including freezing job transfers to different units, and evaluating detective positions to see if some can be moved back to patrol, where the department is down more than 100 officers.

“We end up robbing Peter to pay Paul somewhere else. We have to because ultimately our main function is to be on the street. If you call 911, you need us there right that second,” Ferrell said.

This comes as the city released details about how officers can apply for a buy-out program. Up to 100 officers, command staff on down to accept a one-time $200,000 buy-out. The city will start taking applications for the buy-out on Jan. 31, 2022.

“We need more officers, and I'm committed to do that. We want to make sure they are diverse, reflective of the community,” Ginther said.

Ginther said the city is looking at adding police recruit classes, and expanding class sizes. It will take a year to complete the training for those new officers. That's why the chief is also looking at opening up the division for transfers from other departments in the state. That isn't an immediate fix either.

“There will be some training. They won't just come here. They have to learn our policies and procedures,” Ferrell explained.

“Violence is out of control in cities across the country. Our job, and the reason people hire mayors, is to solve problems. Our job is to make cities safer, stronger, healthier,” Ginther said.

Ginther is expected to give the details of his proposed new classes when he releases his budget proposal.

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