COLUMBUS, Ohio — Behind the uniform, there is an officer. Behind the officer, there is a person. Behind the person, there is a story.
“I chose law enforcement because I felt like that was the greatest opportunity to have an impact,” Shawn Lutz said.
Officer Lutz is a six-and-a-half-year veteran with the Columbus Division of Police. He grew up in Hilliard and calls himself politically mindful and has always been fascinated by how the system works.
Eventually, it was that fascination that led him to the force.
“And, so, if I want to have the greatest impact you have to be right in the trenches doing emotional labor, doing the heavy lifting, seeing where people are at, seeing where everyone is being hurt and working through that, helping them live longer, healthier lives,” he said.
He views his role as one who listens, takes criticism and takes opportunities to help meet challenges.
He serves in the Linden area. Last August he could be seen handing out backpacks to families in need.
What he does is worth celebrating. The same could be said for who he is.
“I am a cisgender gay male,” he said. “My pronouns are he, him, his.”
Lutz says being openly gay has created unique challenges and opportunities. He says he loves his division and the support he’s gotten from fellow officers through the years.
He also views it as a way to get involved, help change policies and be a resource that can benefit everyone.
Still, he says his sexuality can sometimes become a negative focal point while on scene. That’s when, he says, he often needs to table his own thoughts or feelings and, instead, refocus on de-escalation.
“Though my identity has been called into question by people interacting with [me] on the street…that happened obviously during the civil unrest [in May of 2020]… I never let that be a place where that’s the time to have a political conversation,” he said.
Pride Month, he says, is about being out, proud and living freely while creating space for others to be seen.
Lutz hopes the Columbus Division of Police will always continue to be that safe space for others to tell their stories behind the person.
“Proximity brings kindness,” he said. “So, it’s better for us to be a part of these organizations and doing the advocacy that we need to do, rather than distance ourselves from it.”