Police union marches to Columbus City Hall

City council members last night got an earful of complaints from members of the Columbus police union about plans to reorganize some police precincts and reassign officers.

About two dozen members of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9 marched with their supporters downtown to City Hall. They wanted to express their opposition to the redistricting plan developed by the Police Department s top brass. FOP President, Sgt. Jim Gilbert.

“Who better to know about how to serve the citizens of Columbus than the men and women that are out there on a daily basis doing it and their thoughts, concerns, suggestions weren’t even given. They didn’t even ask or seek input from the officers,” said Gilbert.

Police Chief Walter Distelzweig says the plan was an administrative decision that will help to increase patrols and improve response time in areas that see more crime.

“They talk about transfers of the officers and working in the neighborhoods where they work and develop this bond with the community. Well over the past 10 years the division has processed approximately 13,000, 13,000 transfers at the officers’ request,” said Distelzweig.

Under the new plan, some officers would change shifts, days off or precincts. Sgt. Jay Shockey a single dad says a change in his days off will complicate his family life.

“These days are my visitation with my kids and if I would happen to lose my job and my days off would change, I have to not only again have a court date, speak with a magistrate, ask him for permission to have my days change and that’s pocket money out of mine for court costs,” Shockey said.

City council members are staying clear of the dispute since it’s an administrative decision left to the police chief and the public safety director. Both the police union and department administrators are set to meet Friday and Saturday with an arbitrator. If a ruling is favorable to the city, the new patrol redistricting plan could be in place in July.

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