Consultants present 70 recommendations after Columbus Police Dept. detail

Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 12:01 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - “I want it fixed now, and as soon as we can do that,” say District 9 council member Judy Thomas.

“If you were to make a pyramid, public safety is at the bottom of our city and our community,” says District 7 council member JoAnne Cogle.

Columbus councilmembers debated over a strategic plan needed to address issues within the Columbus Police Department. The issues were recently highlighted and presented by Jensen and Hughes in Tuesday morning’s council meeting.

The private firm hired by local businesses to assess the department and what it needs to work on. After detailed interviews with employees of the department, to city leaders, down to business members - the results left 70 recommendations for the department.

For instance forming a special operations unit, to combat gang activity, and work on a communication plan within the department.

“But it is also going to take strong leadership, leadership that is working in concert with the men and women of the police department,” says Jensen & Hughes representative Sydney Roberts.

The three main components from the presentation, was lack of leadership, communication and needing a plan. After the presentation of the scathing report, Chief Blackmon presented his monthly assessment to the council highlighting crime numbers and a 5-year strategic plan that had been drafted in December of 2021 - a year after he took office. Despite the Jensen & Hughes report being issued to the chief in November of 2022.

“That first approach was through proactive policing, and the second part of that is through our community engagement piece,” says Freddie Blackmon. That 5-year plan was not enough for some councilmembers.

“Public safety effects our affordable housing, it effects community health, a healthy economy, and without a healthy public safety department we don’t have a healthy Columbus,” says Cogle.

“Leadership is taking care of the people you are in charge of,” says District 5 council member Charmaine Crabb.

For private citizens and business owners, more collective work needs to be done. Some saying the process of the report was inappropriate.

“I’m talking about the process, that’s not democracy,” says a resident who attended the meeting. We caught the chief after the meeting and he had this to say.

“My command staff and I we are going to review the report, we are thankful for our business community for funding the assessment report, we are going to review it and we are going to put together a plan to move our department forward,” says Chief Freddie Blackmon.