Resolution Pattern or Practice Litigation Columbus Police
Ralph F. Boyd, Jr.
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Mr. Boyd:
I am proud of the nearly 1800 men and women of the Division of Police who put their lives
at risk every day serving the citizens of Columbus. As reflected in the Division's Mission and
Values Statements, these men and women are dedicated to improving the quality of life in Columbus
by enhancing public safety through cooperative interaction with the community and with other public
and private agencies. They are committed to reducing fear by maintaining order and peace and by
protecting life and property, enforcing the law, and taking all appropriate measures to combat crime.
These officers work to fulfill their mission of public service in a manner that inspires the public's
trust and confidence and that protects the Constitutional rights of every citizen.
The City of Columbus is a vibrant, growing, increasingly diverse and constantly changing
community. In meeting the law enforcement needs and expectations of this community, the Division
of Police has not been stagnant. The Division is constantly reviewing its policies and procedures and
exploring ways to improve its performance. Some of the initiatives that have been implemented
recently, like the reengineering of our citizen complaint procedures, our efforts to address the issue
of bias-based profiling, and the installation of video and audio recorders in our cruisers, have
required significant investment at a time when our City faces tremendous budgetary constraints along
with many other demands on our resources. This Administration has used every administrative and
budgetary tool at its disposal to support the ongoing efforts of the Division of Police to provide
policing of the highest quality. And with the support and cooperation of Columbus City Council,
these initiatives have been accomplished.
Other changes are the result of on-going commitments. The Division of Police recently
received reaccreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies
("CALEA"), having demonstrated that the Division meets professionally-recognized criteria for
excellence in management and service delivery. And, like every other law enforcement agency
around the country in the wake of the events of September 11th, the Columbus Division of Police
has taken on additional responsibilities to help ensure and maintain the security of this community
and our nation.
I have no doubt that the Division of Police will continue to review its policies and practices
and make positive changes to those policies and practices. This Administration is committed to
making every effort to facilitate and encourage that process. However, protracted and expensive
litigation between the Department of Justice and the City of Columbus is counterproductive to those
efforts. For that reason, and given the substantive changes that have already taken place at the
Division of Police, I believe it is in the best interest of the citizens of Columbus that the litigation
be ended. For your consideration, I have summarized below what I regard as the most significant
changes that have been made to the Division's policies and practices during my tenure as Mayor.
Reengineering our Citizen Complaint Procedures
Enhancing Use of Force Procedures
- Over $1.2 million and significant human resources, including the addition of
15 new sergeants, have been invested to expand the staffing and scope of
responsibility of the Internal Affairs Bureau ("IAB"). As a result of this expansion,
approximately 10% of all the sergeants for the entire Division are now assigned to
the IAB. This investment was necessary to enable a fundamental change in the way
citizen complaints are handled by the Division--a change that was implemented in
- The time in which a citizen complaint can be filed has been expanded from
twenty-eight to sixty days. As reflected in CDP Directive 3.10, all citizen complaints
are forwarded to the IAB for a prompt investigation and recommended disposition.
All complaints receive the same level of scrutiny. Additionally, complainants are
periodically notified of the progress of the investigation. All IAB supervisors and
investigators have undergone specialized training on this new process and on proper
- The IAB continues to actively engage in community outreach programs to
publicize and explain the new citizen complaint process, and it will continue to
evaluate and make improvements to that process. Finally, with an expenditure of
$1.7 million, the IAB will be moving out of police headquarters to a separate,
renovated facility. The move is planned for the Fall of 2003.
Reaffirming our Commitment to Prohibit Racial Profiling
- The revision of CDP Directive 3.25 provides for an expanded definition of
actions that constitute a use of force, enhanced reporting of all uses of force and
adoption of a use of force continuum. All Division supervisors have been trained on
these changes, resulting in a higher level of monitoring and accountability. That
directive has also been revised to identify the potential for the use of intermediate
weapons to result in serious injury or death.
- CDP Directive 3.23 provides additional guidance to officers as to the
circumstances in which the use of chemical spray or intermediate weapons are
appropriate under the Division's use of force continuum. This includes the
procedures that are to be followed before chemical spray is used in crowd control
situations. The revision clarifies the current practice that the use of chemical spray
for a punitive or retaliatory purpose is prohibited.
- The Division has also implemented new procedures that provide for increased
investigation and supervisory review of all incidents in which chemical spray is used
to control a handcuffed individual.
- Revisions have been made to the Supervisor's Manual to include the
requirement that photographs be taken as part of all use of force and injury to
prisoner investigations. The revisions also require that no supervisor who was
present, witnessed, participated in, or ordered a use of force is permitted to conduct
the investigation of that use of force incident.
- Language has been added to the Division's training materials to reflect the
guidelines officers are trained to follow when using certain defensive tactics,
including boxing techniques.
Installing Video and Audio Recorders in Cruisers
- The Division has taken a number of steps to reaffirm its commitment to all
the citizens of Columbus that it will not tolerate unequal treatment of any person by
stopping, questioning, searching, detaining or arresting based upon the person's
ethnic or racial characteristics, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. As reflected
in CDP Directive 3.53, the practice of bias-based profiling is explicitly prohibited.
- Additionally, in order to clarify the prohibition against racial profiling,
Ordinance 1475-01 was passed by Columbus City Council on September 24, 2001.
This ordinance amended the Columbus City Code to specifically include racial
profiling as a criminal offense.
- The long-standing principles supporting the directive and the ordinance also
provide the basis for new training that was specially designed to address bias-based
profiling. All Division personnel have participated in this training, at a cost of more
than $250,000. This specialized training has also been added as a component of
recruit training at the Training Academy.
- As reflected in Directive 3.53, the Division is collecting data on all self-initiated traffic stops. With the assistance of statistical expertise from The Ohio State
University, and with input from a committee that includes representatives from
Columbus' minority community, this data will undergo regular, periodic review by
- Keeping pace with advances in technology, and for the benefit of officers and
the public, the Division has initiated an effort to install video and audio recorders in
police cruisers. When the cost of equipment, record keeping, facilities, storage space
and personnel are taken into consideration, this has been an expensive undertaking.
Thus far, approximately 100 cruisers have been equipped at an overall expense of
more than $500,000.
Change is natural and necessary for any organization to function effectively and
efficiently. Accordingly, the particulars of the above-summarized changes to the Division's policies
and practices, which are reflected primarily in the referenced directive or manual, are subject to
periodic review and revision. I can assure you that the City of Columbus and its Division of Police
are committed to making only those changes that improve the quality of policing in our city. The
changes under my Administration have been made because they are appropriate and improve our
policing practices. We are committed to continued improvement in our Division of Police and have
no intention of stopping this process simply because the City is no longer a defendant in a lawsuit.
Because of my confidence in our Division of Police, the City would agree to a
dismissal without prejudice. Further, the City would provide the DOJ with videotape copies
of pertinent recruit and in-service training courses, covering one complete recruit class and
one cycle of in-service phase training. The changes referenced above will be incorporated
into the on-going phase training for current officers and the recruit class training, both of
which will be completed by the end of this year. Finally, the City would agree to provide
copies of relevant Division of Police documents to the DOJ through the end of 2003,
including documents reflecting the completion of investigations of any incidents alleged to
have occurred within that time period.
It is my firm belief that this proposal provides the basis for a resolution to this
litigation. This resolution would be detrimental to neither party and benefit the citizens of
Columbus, whose interests are paramount to us both.
/s/ Michael B. Coleman
Michael B. Coleman
cc: James Phillips
VIA FAX and REGULAR MAIL
The Honorable Michael Coleman
City of Columbus Mayor's Office
90 West Broad Street, Room 247
Columbus, OH 43215
Re: United States v. City of Columbus
CA No. C2-99-1097
Dear Mayor Coleman:
Thank you for your September 4, 2002 proposal for resolving
the above referenced litigation. As described in more detail
below, we accept your proposal.
As you note in your letter, since the time this lawsuit was
filed, the Columbus Division of Police (CDP) has made substantial
alterations to many of the policies, procedures, and training
that we sought to change through the lawsuit. For example, the
CDP has expanded the staffing of the Internal Affairs Bureau
(IAB), extended the time in which citizen complaints can be
filed, eliminated the practice of treating certain complaints as
"inquiries," prohibited officers involved in an incident from
conducting the investigation of that incident, expanded the scope
of investigations conducted by IAB, and engaged in a community
outreach program regarding the citizen complaint process. If
implemented properly, these changes should address the concerns
we previously raised with respect to the intake of citizen
complaints and the internal investigations conducted by the chain
Over the last year, the CDP has also made significant
changes to its use of force policies and procedures. The CDP has
expanded its definition of what constitutes force, enhanced
reporting of all uses of force, and adopted a use of force
continuum. The CDP has revised its policy regarding the use of
chemical spray and intermediate weapons, and provided for
increased supervisor scrutiny of uses of chemical spray against
restrained individuals. The CDP has also clarified its policy
regarding what constitutes deadly force. In addition, the CDP
has clarified its policies and training materials regarding the
use of defensive tactics and boxing techniques. If implemented
properly, these changes should address many of our concerns
regarding the CDP's use of force policies.
In addition, the CDP has recently taken steps to address
allegations of racially discriminatory policing by explicitly
prohibiting bias-based profiling, providing additional training
to CDP officers on this prohibition, and committing to the
collection and analysis of data on traffic stops. The CDP has
also initiated an effort to install video and audio cameras in
police vehicles. Moreover, the City has advised us that it is
considering enhancements to its electronic risk management
At this juncture, we are persuaded that the CDP has made
significant changes to the policies and procedures that we sought
to change through the pattern or practice lawsuit. You have
committed to appropriate training on these changes by
December 31, 2002. You have promised to provide us, at least
several weeks in advance, with the schedules of all relevant in-service and new recruit training classes implementing these
changes and to videotape any such training classes upon our
request. Finally, you have promised to provide the United States
with access to the appropriate information to evaluate the effect
that implementation of these changes has on the practices of the
CDP. Specifically, you have promised to continue to provide us
with all relevant documents, including all internal reports and
investigative files regarding any incidents that occur (or are
alleged to have occurred in a citizen complaint) during the
training period and the twelve months after the training on the
measures is completed.
Given the significant changes in circumstances since we
filed our complaint, we accept these promises, and, in exchange,
will enter into the necessary stipulated order of dismissal. The
procedure described above allows the United States to evaluate
whether the CDP fully implements the changes in policies and
procedures, and whether these changes are reflected in the actual
practices of the CDP. Should the City fail to live up to these
promises, the United States retains the right to refile its
claims under 42 U.S.C. § 14141.
The goal of the United States since this lawsuit began has
been to ensure that the constitutional rights of all who come in
contact with the CDP are protected, by obtaining changes in the
way the CDP carries out its policing responsibilities. In light
of the significant improvements in the CDP's policies and
procedures that the City has initiated, the City's assurances
that these changes will be completed, and the mechanism we have
secured to evaluate the impact of the changes, it is our view
that active litigation with the City is no longer necessary.
In closing, I would like to offer my thanks to you, to
Director Mitchell Brown, and to the CDP for the continued
commitment to improving the policing services provided to the
citizens of Columbus. Resolving this matter without further
litigation serves all parties' interests, and the resolution
would not have been possible without your leadership on these
Thank you again for your efforts to help resolve this
matter. I look forward to full implementation of the changes to
the CDP that have been undertaken.
Ralph F. Boyd, Jr.
Assistant Attorney General
cc: James Phillips, Esq.
Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease
52 East Gay Street
P.O. Box 1008
Columbus, Ohio 43216-1008