Columbus Police Union Votes "No Confidence" In Mayor And City Officials

Aug 11, 2017

The Columbus branch of the Fraternal Order of Police unanimously approved a vote of "no confidence" in Mayor Andrew Ginther, Public Safety Director Ned Pettus, and City Council president Zach Klein. 

Their vote follows a public dispute over Ginther's comments about the Zachary Rosen case, in which the Columbus officer was found to have kicked a restrained subject in the head. 

"The behavior we saw in the video was unacceptable and inconsistent with our values as a community," Ginther said in April, referring to a cell phone video captured of the incident. "It erodes the trust the residents of this city place in law enforcement."

Rosen was fired by Pettus in July, overriding Chief Kim Jacobs, who had recommended a three-day suspension.

Jason Pappas, president of FOP Lodge No. 9, said in an interview with WOSU's Clare Roth that the mayor violated Rosen's due process rights to a fair hearing.

"The mayor has the right to speak about things that are in the public interest in the city, but when it comes to actually making a decision about his conduct, the statements that the mayor made regarding that conduct, without an investigation, are inappropriate," Pappas says.

A Columbus Police investigation completed in May found that Rosen had used an "untrained technique" in violation of the division's Use of Force Directive.

Activists had called for Rosen's firing following the incident, as well as after his involvement in the shooting death of Henry Green. While Pappas says there is a "small segment" of people in the community who are unhappy with the police, he disagrees that there is a disconnect with the public.

"I do not believe that there is a discord between the majority of citizens of Columbus and the Division of Police," Pappas says. 

FOP Lodge No. 9 has called for Rosen's reinstatement, and filed for arbitration to appeal Pettus' decision.

The union's unanimous vote also reflected a grievance over staffing and resources, Pappas says.

"We are on pace for an all-time high homicide rate in Columbus, Ohio," he says. "That's very alarming. We're at 80 homicides today."

In addition, Pappas says the city's opioid crisis has strained the department's 1,900 officers.

"We're doing more medical and drug addiction runs than law enforcement runs," he says. "Because of that, the community is starting to suffer."

Public safety already makes up the largest part of the city's budget.

Pappas says the vote against Ginther, Pettus and Klein expresses a "loss in faith in their ability to lead." 

In a statement Friday afternoon, Klein said he stands behind Rosen's firing.

"As a community leader, I have unwavering support for our police officers who put their lives on the line every day to make us safe," Klein wrote. "However, I also have high expectations that they perform their duties responsibly. No vote or action by any organization will ever change that."

Ginther said in his own statement that public safety is still his "number one priority."

"I remain committed to strengthening the best division of police in the country, to hiring new officers, and continuing to develop strategies to improve community-police relations," Ginther said. "We will continue to invest in the tools, technology and training needed to keep every resident in every neighborhood safe."