COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther said Thursday naming a new chief of police will be "one of the most important decisions I'm going to make as mayor." Current Chief Kim Jacobs will retire in February.
Ginther said he wanted "the best and the brightest" for the job, and he plans to search for candidates across the country. He said he wanted "a change agent" as the next chief.
“We want to police differently, and we want to engage the community at how we can make everyone in this community feel safe," Ginther said. “We’ll have more officers working for the Division at the end of the year than ever in our city’s history but it’s not just about more officers. It’s about how we’re policing and policing differently.”
The mayor pointed to new technology like Shotspotter which can improve how police officers do their jobs. Shotspotter can detect gunfire and alert officers before someone can call 911. Ginther said that program was being tried in three neighborhoods.
The city has also spent millions of dollars on body cameras for hundreds of officers.
“What we discovered in last year’s homicide spike is we weren’t going to police our way out of it," he said about the spike in homicides in 2017. A record 143 people were killed in Columbus that year. The homicide number was down to 103 in 2018.
“Although we are not ready to say that it’s been a complete success, seeing a 28 percent reduction in homicides and reductions in violent crime throughout the city is a sign we’re headed in the right direction," Ginther said.
Ginther has faced criticism from faith leaders for the fractured relationship between the police and the community. The next chief will likely try to heal those wounds.
“We will not rest until every family and every neighborhood feels safe in Columbus," he said.
Ginther said Jacobs deserved credit for improving training for police officers on implicit bias and deescalating potentially dangerous situations. His "safety advisory commission" will give recommendations for how to improve the department. He said his next police chief will be in charge of putting that plan into action.
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