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Clergy Hold Prayer Vigil at City Hall, Urge Mayor Ginther to Implement Crisis Intervention Training, De-Escalation Strategies to Save Lives


August 22, 2017


Michelle Nealy, mnealy@faithinpubliclife.org, (202) 735-7123

Dan Clark, dclark@faithinpubliclife.org, (614) 648-3663

Clergy Hold Prayer Vigil at City Hall, Urge Mayor Ginther to Implement Crisis Intervention Training, De-Escalation Strategies to Save Lives

 Columbus, Ohio — On Tuesday, August 22nd, diverse and prominent faith and community leaders gathered at City Hall to “Seek the Peace of the City” and call on Mayor Ginther to save lives by increasing Crisis Intervention Training for the Columbus Police Department.

Rev. Kate Shaner, First Community Church:

“My brothers and sisters, we have a violence problem in the city of Columbus where our use of deadly force is not acceptable. I began work in nursing and now as a minister to save lives, not take them. I assume our police officers originally had the same intent. The only way to stop this deadly cycle is to invest in your long term psychological care, as well as the health and well being of the people you are called to serve by investing in de-escalation training.”

Pastor Rich Johnson, Sanctuary Church Columbus:

“The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program equips officers to respond in the most safe and just way so that everyone in the city benefits. As clergy who represent the spiritual vitality of our city, we represent the voice of the people, as well as the voices of police, firefighters and politicians. As clergy, we want a safe community for all of Columbus’s residents and employees. We met with Mayor Ginther more than 2 weeks ago. He said he would respond to our conversation and request for increased CIT training and implicit bias training within a month. The clock is ticking and time is drawing nigh. We are waiting to hear Mayor Ginther respond to these requests for the seek the peace of the city.” 

Weezee Rogan, Sister of Jaron Thomas:

“On January 14, 2017, Jaron Thomas politely called 911 and explained that he was schizophrenic and going through an episode and needed a transport to Netcare. He had made this call in the past maybe four or five other times from this same address. But this particular time, the police showed up instead of an ambulance. The police ended up beating Jaron into a coma and he died on January 23rd. We have never been told what happened outside that doorstep. The other people there were forced to stay inside the house. There was not a CIT team dispatched to this situation. There were no weapons. He was not being arrested. He was not resisting. There was no reason for this to happen at all. My family went to Internal Affairs to ask what happened and we were actually told, ‘no one cares.’ But people care! We care! We want to know what happened to Jaron! What happened to my brother?” 

Dr. Jeffrey Daniels, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University:

“As an active member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), I’d like to tell you about my family’s experience with crisis situations along our path of living with mental illness in our household. Nothing is more frustrating than to call 911 out of desperation and have the police arrive lacking the training and insight necessary to evaluate the situation and act in an empathetic manner. Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training helps everyone: the family, the mentally ill person, the police, and society. Crisis Intervention Team saves lives and saves money! As an enlightened city, Columbus should have its entire force trained in this life-saving de-escalation method.”

Pastor Jason Ridley, Hilltop Community Worship Center:

“As clergy from all across this city, from different faith traditions, from different ethnic backgrounds, we are here together today for one common purpose: to seek the peace of the city! Columbus is on track to have its highest year in homicides since 1991. On top of that, 6 Columbus men and 1 Columbus boy have been killed by Columbus police since last summer. Some shot in the back, posing no threat. Some unarmed. And some even dealing with mental illness. Their lives were snatched away at the very hands of those who took an oath ‘to serve and protect.’ We are not anti-police. But we do have concerns with some police practices. We do have concerns with the FOP’s agenda and their vote of no confidence in Mayor Ginther for his support for the firing of Officer Zachary Rosen. We stand here seeking the peace of the city because we want a safe community for our families, our neighbors, and our first responders.”


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