The Other Columbus: The city approves a new FOP contract and I’m exhausted

The contract with the Columbus police union recently ratified by City Council does little more than protect the status quo, which is exactly what this columnist expected

Scott Woods
City Council president, Shannon Hardin, listens to testimony from Lena Tenney, of North Linden, as they talk about abuse from CPD during a city council meeting on July 26.

You can do a right thing the wrong way. 

City Council will implore us to be patient with a reform process that’s already proven it can protect no one. When a “step in the right direction” doesn’t change the outcome of the actual problem — if it does not stop people being killed by police — then that action isn’t change. The conversations may have broadened (or diluted, depending on who is doing the talking), but the goal has been to get everyone working on the first step, which is and has always been to stop the state sanctioned killing of Black people. 

Police enforce the laws, but only as they see fit, and they do so largely unfettered by public oversight. I need not define the violence committed by police officers as state sanctioned when it is brutally clear that the state will do everything in its power to protect police officers from the consequences of their actions, and for practically any reason. At this point, any expectation of change exposes a problem with the expectation. Maintaining the status quo is good business, and cops are in the anti-disruption game.

There is enough of a track record in this city of political impotence, unresolved injustices and contractual shenanigans to justify my position 10 times over. I need you to see the struggle for what it is, but never to see it as a failure, even when the protests go away.

What it must be like to possess the luxury of public safety. 

***

Every sentence you just read came from previous and separate articles I wrote for Alive on the subject of policing, one line per weekly installment. I skipped over a few pieces that didn’t have general-enough statements, but as it stands, this was almost enough to be its own column. Barring the weird grammatical breaks here and there (I changed none of the sentences to fit), it almost works.

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The experiment came to me while trying to process the recent approval by City Council of a new contract with the Columbus police union. The contract gives police officers a 14 percent raise over the next three years, won’t give the newly installed citizen review board subpoena powers, and is offering $200,000 buyouts for up to 100 officers with at least 25 years experience. You know, to weed out anybody who can’t hack their wildly reforming department. This is pretty much nothing that the community was protesting for, or that anyone but the police requested. (I wish someone would pay my house off to get me to stop working for them.) 

More:The city and the FOP: A decades-old drama boils over

I keep calling this column an experiment when really it’s an “I told you so.” I mean, I have literally been telling people that this was going to be the outcome of any “work” the city touches when it comes to policing. Those 11 sentences above each represent 500 to 1000-plus words each on what they not gonna do for you. I wanted to be mad about it, but I already was. Eleven times over.