The U.S. Justice Department will review practices of the Columbus Police Department, which has been rocked in recent years by a series of fatal police shootings of black subjects and its response to last year's racial injustice protests, the city and the federal government announced Thursday.
The review will be conducted by the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and will consist of what the department is calling technical assistance in such areas as training, recruitment with a focus on diversity, technology, and creating an early intervention system for officers, ABC News reports.
“This is not about one particular officer, policy or incident," Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said in a statement. “Rather, this is about reforming the entire institution of policing in Columbus.”
Unlike other cities under Justice Department review, which is often unwanted, Columbus requested the federal involvement. Ginther and City Attorney Zach Klein asked the government to intervene in April, days after a white officer fatally shot 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant while the teenager, who was black, and was charging at a woman with a knife.
The COPS Office has a track record of providing an array of resources for police departments, said Robert Chapman, acting COPS director.
Ginther and the all-Democratic city council have pushed for multiple changes to the Columbus Division of Police over the years, including the creation — approved by voters in November — of the city's first civilian police review board and the selection in June of Elaine Bryant as police chief. Bryant is the first black woman to serve in that role.