Ginther, police union president far apart after closed-door meeting

Bethany Bruner
Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther speaks during a news conference regarding a report from Matrix Consulting Group about city police training and procedures on Aug. 21, 2019 in Columbus. The report found multiple instances of racial disparity, including a "significant disparity of use of force against minority residents."

After several weeks of public back-and-forth between Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and the local Fraternal Order of Police, the two sides met behind closed doors Thursday.

Statements issued by both sides after the meeting show just how large the gap between the two remains as Ginther and the City Council have said they are hoping to institute radical changes in how the police department operates.

In the lead-up to Thursday’s meeting, Ginther had publicly called on the union to be a part of the change.

“You’re either with us or you’re against the community,” Ginther said in a community address Wednesday. “I urge you to join us or the community will hold you accountable.”

Keith Ferrell, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, has said the union is willing to listen, but officers want alternatives for how to do their jobs rather than simply being told what not to do.

The union’s contract with the city expires in December.

Following Thursday’s meeting, Ginther released a statement saying the union is putting up “barriers to our progress.”

“I am disappointed in the FOP’s lack of commitment to the reforms we need at the Columbus Division of Police. They say they are prepared to listen, but we’ve heard that for far too long,” Ginther said. “The time for listening is over. The time for action is now.”

Ferrell responded and said he and the Franklin County law enforcement community felt betrayed by Ginther’s characterization of the meeting, which he said he attended in good faith.

“We have not rejected one reform idea, and we are willing to roll our sleeves up and sit down and work with the community,” Ferrell said. “We asked today to be part of the process, and the mayor would not commit to including us.”

The union also challenged Ginther to be a unifying leader.

“Now is not the time to point fingers and further divide us,” Ferrell said. “Mayor Ginther, this is an historic moment with the potential for great change and promise for all. Are you ready to unite and lead us?"