Columbus Police Chief requests FBI Task Force assistance to investigate Vice Unit

Columbus Police (WSYX/WTTE)

Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs has requested the assistance of the FBI Task Force to investigate CPD's Vice Unit.

The news comes weeks after Chief Jacobs announced the Vice Unit would be placed under a review. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther supported the decision, saying "I respect and support Chief Jacobs' decision to pause Vice operations while she and Deputy Chief Becker evaluate Division policies and procedures."

CPD says recent high profile incidents, including the arrest of adult film star Stormy Daniels, have brought forward a variety of allegations against the vice section, on social media as well as other sources. The arrest of Daniels received national attention, which prompted Columbus Police Chief Jacobs to issue a statement, saying, "Nevertheless, a mistake was made, and I accept full responsibility."

In August, a vice officer shot and killed Donna Castleberry during a prostitution investigation. Police say she stabbed officer Andrew Mitchell in his hand. That officer had a citizen complaint filed against him a week earlier.

CPD says a formal request was made by Chief Jacobs to transfer the investigation and the FBI's Public Corruption Task Force accepted.

The Columbus Division of Police has requested the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Public Corruption Task Force as evidence has developed in the investigations of the Columbus Police Vice Section. The Task Force includes the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Ohio Auditor of State, and the FBI. A formal request was made by Chief Kim Jacobs to transfer the investigations and the Task Force accepted.
The Division previously reported that operations of the Vice Section have been temporarily paused while administrative issues are resolved, and this pause remains in effect. The Division will notify the public before regular operations resume.
Recent high profile incidents have brought forward a variety of allegations against the Vice Section via social media postings and other sources. Persons who have knowledge of criminal activity by members of the Columbus Police Vice personnel are asked to call a tip line set up by the FBI to investigate these claims.

The chief said crimes the unit would be investigating won't be ignored, and the purpose of this review is to make sure all policies are being properly followed.

Additionally, CPD says officer Andrew Mitchell was relieved of duty Wednesday night and the decision has nothing to do with the police-involved shooting, rather the investigation into the Vince Unit and the FBI task force. His gun and badge were taken, but he's still employed with CPD. He's the only VICE officer relieved of duty.

The deadly shooting of Donna Castleberry is a separate investigation by the CPD critical incident response team.

ABC 6 On Your Side Investigates has been looking into CPD's Vice Unit since Daniels' arrest in July. Emails revealed another vice officer researched Daniels in the days before she took part in that arrest, even sending herself emails with Daniels' picture and a map to the club.

We also obtained officer Mitchell's internal affairs file. In it, there are two complaints from two women that are pending that allege violation of police rules. Mitchell was also questioned by internal affairs after a January 2013 traffic stop by Clinton Township police. Mitchell was accused of allowing a woman to drive his truck without a valid license, and a passenger admitted to having marijuana. Columbus police gear, including the officer's gun belt and police I.D. were in the back seat. Mitchell stated he wasn't aware of the license issue or the pot. He claimed Clinton Township doesn't look at him in a good light because he's had issues with drug dealers at a parking lot of apartments he owns.

ABC6/FOX28 will continue to update this developing story.

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