Complaint against police set for review

A city committee is reviewing a complaint against the Columbus Police Department after a citizen appealed the police department’s determination that the complaint was unfounded.

At the Aug. 23 city of Board of Works meeting, board members gave unanimous approval to create a subcommittee to the audit and review committee to review the appeal.

The audit and review committee is a nine- member group that acts on citizen complaints against the police department only when there is an appeal to the department’s investigation of the complaint.

Columbus Police Chief Jon Rohde told board members that a complaint was filed against the police department on July 6, but an internal investigation found on July 29 that the complaint was unfounded.

Because it is still going through the audit and review process, Rohde said he could not provide specific details about the complaint.

The citizen who filed the complaint was informed of the decision Aug. 4 and chose to file an appeal to the unfounded determination Aug. 15, meeting the 15-day deadline to appeal a determination, Rohde said.

Because Board of Works members will conduct the final review of the complaint appeal, Rohde said city ordinance requires him to inform the board of the appeal so that it can assign a subcommittee within 10 days of the appeal being filed.

Before the appeal returns to the Board of Works, audit and review subcommittee members will have 30 days to review the appeal and answer two questions:

Did the Columbus Police Department follow the appropriate procedures when reviewing the citizen complaint?

Did Rohde make the unfounded determination using sufficient information that was not arbitrary or capricious?

With the Board of Works’ Aug. 23 approval, Rick King, chairman of the audit and review committee, will be asked to assign the complaint to the subcommittee so that the 30-day review process can begin.

The current appeal is the first time the audit and review committee has reviewed a citizen complaint since 2012.

About the appeal process

Here is the timeline resident and city leaders must follow when an appeal is filed against the Columbus Police Department’s investigation into a citizen complaint:

  • After the citizen has been informed of the police chief’s determination of the complaint, the citizen has the opportunity to appeal within 15 days
  • After an appeal has been filed, the police chief is required to inform the Board of Works about the appeal
  • Board of Works members must then give approval to allow the audit and review committee chairperson to assign an appeal review subcommittee within 10 days
  • Once the subcommittee has been created, its members have 30 days to review the appeal
  • After the 30-day review, the appeal will return to the Board of Works for the final review
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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.