Who paid for Columbus Police Department Assessment? We asked.
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Lieutenant Ralph Dowe, a current police officer and the president of the Fraternal Order of Police here in Columbus, addressed the city council on the issues within the Columbus Police Department.
“We are working in a deteriorating department with the lowest morale that many of us have not seen in decades,” said Ralph Dowe. “The demise of our department is dangerously out pacing our ability to recruit, re-staff, and train new officers.”
So we looked into the numbers, and noticed a downward trend several years ago. According to web articles from WTVM back in 2017 under Police Chief Ricky Boren, the Columbus Police Department was down 80 officers.
In 2018, it was down 90 officers and, in 2019, that number grew to 100 officers.
The next year the number remained steady for 2020 - still down 100 police officers, that was just a few months shy of former Police Chief Ricky Boren leaving office. Boren served as police chief for 16 years.
Move to present day, Police Chief Freddy Blackmon took office January 2021, the department was down 105 officers.
Also in 2021, Mayor Skip Henderson told News Leader 9 the city of Columbus has budgeted for a total of 485 officers. A WTVM article from 2022 indicates the department was down roughly 130 officers under Chief Blackmon and here we are at the beginning of 2023 and the department is still seeing a critical shortage in the number of officers patrolling the streets of Columbus.
With a low number of officers, we looked into who paid Jensen and Hughes, the company that conducted the assessment of the police department.
We are told a number of high profile Columbus businesses paid for the assessment. One of our sources said the check written to pay for the assessment came from a philanthropic organization called The Community Foundation. Vice President JJ Musgrove later confirmed to us by phone that private donors did indeed pay Jensen and Hughes through The Community Foundation and its Safe Streets Fund.
The public plea for an assessment came from local business man and former mayoral candidate John Anker.
“I’m offering as a private citizen to take the lead in organizing a public private initiative to conduct an independent third party study that will investigate exactly what’s happening. The intent will be to identify the problem find the middle ground ad bridge the divide created by our city leadership,” says Anker.
We asked for a list of donors from the community foundation and were told that would not be made public. They sent us a statement that reads in part.
“The community foundation does not publicly share the names of donors to our funds or the amount of funding in each fund. We’ll leave it to the Columbus Consolidated Government to be the spokesperson for the Jensen Hughes work.”
The following statement, is from a current police officer who wished to remain anonymous, but had this to say about the assessment.
“I would like to thank WTVM for the continued coverage of this very important matter. I would also like to thank the private businesses who organized and paid for Jensen Hughes to conduct the operational assessment of the Columbus Police Department. I would like to thank all the officers and private citizens who were in attendance at the council meeting, or watched online. I would especially like to thank the associates at Jensen Hughes; true professionals.”
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