Discussion about police work in general continues to dominate public conversations in all regions of the country, and Columbus is no exception.
The last 'Let's Talk With The Mayor' event of the year began with questions about use of equipment and officer hiring procedures. Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Chief Ricky Boren were both available to answer them.
"We don't just take anybody, and we train them right."
A woman asked why the city has a large armored vehicle as part of their fleet.
Chief Boren answered that among other reasons, a community neighboring Fort Benning must be equipped to deal with the theoretical possibility of a rogue element getting a hold of military weapons and using them for the wrong purpose. The vehicle was given to the city for free by the federal government.
At a forum hosted by the Columbus Metro Association of Black Journalists at Columbus State University, local activists asked questions about police accountability.
Chief Boren was also at this event and he remarked that he has no problem arresting an officer if necessary. He does not blindly take their sides in any situation.
Marshal Countryman addressed a question about whether laws should be changed in light of recent events in the news.
"We don't want to take power away from our police officers. I'm not for that. However, we can change the way that we police. Because, as long as we police from behind, we're always going to have incidents that happen like this. We have to get in front of the problem."
Many of the people who addressed the panel asked for more diversity and sensitivity training in the police force.
The mayor challenged citizens to become familiar with their rights when encountering an officer and to consult the ACLU web site to learn what those rights are. She encouraged anyone who thinks they have a complaint to file it using city web site.