The ACLU of Ohio is pleased to support the Columbus Safety Collective (“the Safety Collective”). The Safety Collective is a group of citizens demanding that the City of Columbus start up a non-police emergency response pilot based on health, anti-racist values, and a bold vision for the future that people can trust.
The Safety Collective is demanding that Mayor Ginther and Columbus City Council allocate $10 million in the 2023 Operating Budget to pilot its proposal. Mayor Ginther’s 2023 proposed Operating Budget contains $705 million for safety spending, but, as of yet, no money for a non-police emergency response pilot. Now it is up to City Council make sure that the city’s budget reflects the demands of Columbus residents. The budget process will wrap up in early February 2023.
Simply put, Columbus residents want a non-police response program and such a program does not yet exist. Further, the City has the means to create it. In December 2020 when Columbus City Council launched its Reimagining Public Safety Initiative, an overwhelming majority of survey respondents reported being very or somewhat comfortable with non-police teams responding to a range of 911 calls. While the City of Columbus has piloted co-responder models, all of them are linked with police.
The Safety Collective produced a blueprint for its proposed Crisis Intervention + Voluntary Linkage (CIVL) Program. The blueprint includes the following policy pillars:
- Non-police Emergency Response
- Prioritize Community Workers
- City Investment and High Quality Jobs
- Accountable to the Community
- High Quality Evaluation for the Pilot and Beyond
The Safety Collective is not alone in its demands. Similar models like CAHOOTS in Eugene, Oregon and STAR in Denver, Colorado offer glimpses into the world that is possible when cities offer appropriate responses to individuals experiencing crises, but not in need of police. Thousands of successful responses later, these cities and others remain leaders in alternative crisis response. It’s time for Columbus to join them.