FOP criticizes Columbus city leadership after deputy marshal wounded and triple homicide

Brian A. Steel, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9

Citing the shooting of a deputy U.S. Marshal a day after two children and a young man were killed, the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge 9 on Wednesday criticized Columbus city leadership over its approach to public safety.

Brian A. Steel, vice president of the local FOP lodge, which represents 4,300 law enforcement officers in Columbus and Franklin County, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon on behalf of the union sending thoughts and prayers to the as-yet publicly unidentified deputy U.S. Marshal who was shot earlier in the day during a raid by a federal task force seeking an aggravated robbery suspect.

“This violent encounter is yet another example of the lawlessness that plagues our city,” Steel wrote in the statement.

“This heinous act comes less than 24 hours after a triple homicide, involving the death of two children,” he noted, referring to the deaths of two siblings ages 9 and 6 who were fatally shot Tuesday night in a targeted attack on a vehicle in a parking lot at the Winchester Lakes Apartments complex on Columbus' Southeast Side near Canal Winchester. The statement made no mention of the death of the young man with them who also was killed.

Steel said Columbus city leadership has for the past year emphasized its “Reimagining Public Safety” initiative, which is intended to help resolve violence in the city and complaints about police action.

The initiative, which Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and city council say is based on polling and input of city residents, included the creation of a Civilian Police Review Board and independent inspector general to investigate allegations of police misconduct, alternative 911 responses such as sending mental-health or drug addiction counselors to non-violent emergency calls, and programs such a youth intervention and mentoring to address the root causes of violence.

“It's not working,” Steel stated flatly. “Our homicide rate continues to climb year after year.”

In fact, the three deaths Tuesday night bring the total number of homicides in Columbus in 2021 to a new record 186 as of late Wednesday afternoon, with more than three weeks remaining.

“If law and order are not re-established,” Steel warned, “this trend will lead to more innocent lives lost.”

Ginther and city council representatives could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday night.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus' Reimagining Public Safety initiative 'not working,' FOP says

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