Appalling police behavior must stop in Columbus

Whether the problems at the Columbus Police Department are the quality and number of recruits, training, policies, culture or all of the above, ordinary citizens continue to suffer.

Just a few days ago, Columbus Division of Police Detective Demetris Ortega pleaded guilty in a fatal hit-and-run crash, and admitted he had been drinking heavily before the tragedy.

Back in February, the U.S. Department of Justice recommended reforms for the department after a two-year review of scandals ranging from how officers handled protests against racial injustice to deadly officer-involved shootings.

Now, an officer has been caught on video suggesting an 11-year-old girl “could probably get charged with child porn” after the girl’s desperate father called police about a person online who had manipulated her into sending intimate photos of herself.

According to a report from The Washington Post, the father hoped the officers could speak with the young girl to help her “realize what this was.”

Instead, one of the two officers who responded to the home told the father it was his daughter who could face charges. When the man protested, the officer said, “Doesn’t matter. She’s still making porn.”

The girl’s father had called police at approximately 6 p.m. They arrived about midnight. When the father said he’d wanted the officers to talk to his daughter, one responded with “There’s not much I can do about it, is there?”

Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant has said the department contacted the father to apologize. Bryant said the officers’ response and alleged crime against the child would be “fully investigated,” according to the Post.

“My expectation is that our officers treat every victim of crime with compassion, decency and dignity,” Bryant said. “What I saw in that video did not reflect that.”

In fact, it demonstrated that at least in the case of these two officers, not much has changed so far as understanding their responsibility to protect and serve.

According to the Columbus Police Department, the city’s inspector general now is reviewing the case, and IF policies were violated, will make recommendations to “restore, build and maintain the public trust.” If the department is uncertain as to whether the officer’s behavior violated policy, it may be that the best way to restore any good relationship with the public is to start from scratch, and set standards that allow the good officers to do their jobs properly and safely.


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