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More than 200 Columbus police officers apply for retirement incentive program

Mayor Andrew Ginther said they are pleased with the response to the program and expect the impact will be positive for both officers and residents.
Credit: WBNS-10TV / Scott Doelling
File Photo

COLUMBUS, Ohio — More than 200 Columbus police officers have applied for the retirement incentive program that was part of the new contract with the city.

During contract negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police last year, the city offered an option for 100 members to receive a one-time $200,000 buyout to leave the department.

The program is offered to commanders down through the ranks. Out of those 200 applicants, it includes 175 officers, 31 sergeants, 11 lieutenants and five commanders.

With the program moving forward, there’s more concern during a time when the department is already understaffed. In 2021, 140 officers left the department with just 50 hired.

EDITOR'S NOTE (March 4): A spokesperson for the City of Columbus Department of Public Safety has clarified that the police department actually hired 105 officers in 2021. 10TV's reporting was based on a 2021 payroll document from the city that included 45 recruits who started in June 2021. Not reflected in that document were 60 recruits who entered the academy in December 2021. Those recruits were technically employees at that point, but did not receive paychecks until January 2022.

“The division is going to have to do something. We are already down several hundred officers. I question losing another 100 tenured people and supervisors that are tenured and know how to run this place,” Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge #9 President Keith Ferrell said.

Ferrell is among the 175 officers who have applied for the incentive program.

In a statement to 10TV, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said they are pleased with the response to the program and expect the impact will be positive for both officers and residents.

“The incentive is but one strategy intended to better position the Division of Police for the future. As we recognize the contributions of those retiring, we are also working to aggressively hire hundreds of new officers and are pursuing new strategies to allow for well-trained, experienced officers from other communities to join the ranks of the Columbus Division of Police,” Ginther said. “Collectively, these efforts combined with changes in how we train our officers, are expected to help change the face and culture of the Division, to increase diversity and to better align the Division with community expectations – sooner rather than later. While managing change and transition will be challenging, I have faith and confidence in Chief Bryant’s ability to manage both. She has my full support.”

Ginther has proposed an additional Columbus Police academy class, but the number of applicants has dwindled through the years.

There were more than 2,600 applicants for the Columbus Police Academy in 2016 and only 625 last year.

Ferrell argues adding just one class won't be enough to make up for the numbers that are leaving. He worries officers won't be able to get to you as quickly as they have in the past.

“There are certainly things we might not be doing anymore. Services to the public we've done in the past that we might not investigate, or we might not come out and respond to just from a simple numbers standpoint,” Ferrell said.

The 100 members who are selected will have their retirements staggered out through the summer.

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