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Independent review team seeks public input on Columbus’ handling of protest response

A hotline and website will help collect information

A review team, supported by researchers at The Ohio State University, is conducting an independent, after-action research review of Columbus’ response to protests this summer. The time frame under review is May 28, 2020 to July 19, 2020.

The team has created a hotline and website to collect information from people who participated in the protests or were directly affected by the protests. Individuals who want to share their protest experience are asked to call 1-800-678-6552 or visit http://www.columbusaar2020.org/ to express interest in participating in the study. A study team member will contact those individuals to schedule an interview.

“Following The Ohio State University’s research protocols, we will take extensive steps to protect the confidentiality of people who agree to participate in the research study,” said Trevor Brown, dean of Ohio State’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs, who is directing the research project. “Our goal is to gather as much information as possible about the protests of this summer and use this information to undertake an objective assessment that leads to constructive recommendations.”

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther, Council President Shannon G. Hardin and Police Chief Thomas Quinlan announced the independent, outside after-action review of the city’s response to recent protests in July. This appraisal, which will culminate with a written report presented to City Council, will be a holistic, policy review of the city’s response and is separate from the recent investigations into individual officers’ actions during the protests.

“We will include information from involved government agencies and officers, police training policies and protocols, incident reports from the police as well as other relevant data in our review,” said Carter M. Stewart, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio and special investigative researcher for the project. “We want to hear from participants about their experiences in the protests, which will be vital to the outcome of the research.”

The research team also includes nationally known experts in the fields of civil rights, law enforcement, organizational behavior, First Amendment rights, social media and public policy. Investigators and researchers will review information collected and interview people who were involved.

The team will use the information to produce a report analyzing the city’s effectiveness in preparing for and handling the protests, including an evaluation of the balance struck between public safety and freedom of speech. The report also will include research-informed recommendations for how the city can improve its response to future protests.

Completion of the report is expected by early 2021.

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