Jun 6, 2022 - News

Columbus City Council: demilitarize the police

Police officers and protesters are seen amid a cloud of tear gas during a 2020 protest in Columbus.

Officers and protesters in a cloud of tear gas launched by Columbus police during May 2020 protests. Photo: Megan Jelinger/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Columbus City Council will vote tonight to restrict the use of "military-style equipment and tactics" by the Division of Police.

Why it matters: City leaders want to demilitarize the police department as part of ongoing efforts to rebuild trust in local law enforcement.

Details: The ordinance, which is expected to be approved, would prohibit police from using nonlethal force like tear gas and rubber bullets on nonviolent protesters.

  • It also would restrict the use of explosives, pyrotechnics and armored vehicles, except for tactical use like from SWAT teams.

What it says: The ordinance states "militarization of police conflicts with the mission to protect and serve, undermines public trust, and creates barriers to the resident-officer connections that are necessary for law enforcement to support public safety."

Flashback: Police used pepper spray and fireworks in 2020 to enforce curfews during widespread protests across the country following the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota.

  • Columbus City Council acted that summer to prohibit the department from using certain equipment, such as tracked armored vehicles, high-caliber weaponry, riot batons and camouflage uniforms.
  • Investigations into the department's protest conduct, charges against three officers and an overwhelming public vote establishing a police oversight board all followed the protests.

Separately, City Council will vote tonight on an ordinance requiring officers to wear badge numbers and name tags while on duty.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Columbus.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Columbus stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Columbus.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more