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FOP says new contract will bring more diverse officers to division, but won't solve crime problem

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #9 President Keith Ferrell said the new contract with the increased pay will help recruit new diverse officers to the division.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Federal Order of Police discussed a new contract with the City of Columbus during a press conference Tuesday. 

After nearly an hour of conversation on Monday, city council approved the contract between the FOP and the city.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #9 President Keith Ferrell said the new contract isn't going to fix the violent crime the city is seeing.

“This contract isn't going to solve the crime problem. That is going to take trust and people supporting openly law enforcement," Ferrell said.

Ferrell said the new contract between the union and the city is a step in bridging the gap between the two. He said the increased pay will help recruit new diverse officers to the division. 

“We have to show we support the officers financially and draw them in that way, and by supporting officers publicly,” Ferrell said.

Ferrell said there are about a dozen departments in Franklin County that pay better than Columbus, at a time when the city is dealing with record-setting crime rates.  

This contract will increase officers' pay by about 14% over three years, in hopes of attracting and keeping highly trained officers.

“We need more officers. Chief Bryant has been clear, the Matrix report has been clear, we have been clear for years saying that, certainly at a time when we have a crime situation,” Ferrell said. 

In addition to the contract, the city is offering 100 officers a $200,000 incentive to leave the division.

“The incentive program will allow senior officers who no longer wish to serve to leave the division without financial hardship,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.

So far 98 officers have either left or retired on their own. Compare that to 80 recruits who have graduated this year, with another class not set to graduate until next year.

“I do think everyone acknowledges we can't afford to lose police officers without a plan. They say they have one. I'm confident they will do the right thing,” Ferrell said.

The decision has received pushback from several community members, some of whom spoke about their personal experiences with the division during Monday’s meeting. 

Lena Tenney was one of those people, saying in part, “The message to residents is that a 14% raise, a $200,000 buyout, and increased financial options are a reward for how the police have behaved within the last year and a half.” 

Others have said the contract is designed to hold officers more accountable. Under the contract, the lookback feature on body-worn cameras will be increased from one minute to two minutes with audio. 

Additionally, the Civilian Review Board will have the power to review cases of alleged police misconduct and make recommendations based on their finds. 

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