Reynoldsburg appoints nine residents to civilian review board
The first nine members of Reynoldsburg’s civilian review board were appointed Feb. 8 in a motion unanimously approved by City Council.
Council in October established the independent, volunteer board to review accusations of discrimination by Reynoldsburg police officers.
Board members will serve two-year terms, with one from each of the city’s four wards and another five nominated by the mayor. At least one of the nine must be a practicing attorney, one must have a law-enforcement background and at least two must be minorities.
Board members are:
• Charan Bajgai, a community liaison and paraprofessional with Pickerington Local Schools, represents Ward 3
• Chester Christie, retired director of the city of Columbus Human Resources Department
• April Darling, a shift leader at Wendy’s, represents Ward 2
• Kerry Fletcher, president of a precious metals company, represents Ward 4
• Rick Keys, a retired Ohio State Patrol captain and former Reynoldsburg code enforcement officer
• Evelyn Robinson, managing partner of a regional electricity transmission organization
• Eric Rogers, an attorney, represents Ward 1
• Schyvonne Ross, an assistant principal with Reynoldsburg City Schools
• Reina Sims, a program administrator with the Ohio Commission on Minority Health
City leaders have said creating a civilian review board was not in response to specific concerns or current allegations of discrimination by the police department. Reynoldsburg worked with the FOP Capital City Lodge No. 9, which represents Reynoldsburg officers, to draft the review board legislation.
If complaints are received, the review board will meet publicly to hold hearings after an internal investigation by the police department.
Under the legislation, the review board will have the power to receive, cause investigation of and recommend resolutions for any filed complaints alleging discriminatory conduct by officers and non-sworn employees of the Reynoldsburg Division of Police, regardless of duty status, when such conduct is directed toward any person who is not a department employee.
Discriminatory conduct is defined in the proposed ordinance as discrimination or bias directed toward any person on the basis of that person's race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, disability, ancestry, familial status or military status.
The board will discuss the alleged incident and the evidence – including body-camera footage, interviews and police policies – in executive session. That would be followed by a public vote to decide complaints through one of six outcomes: sustained, sustained in part, sustained for a violation not based on original complaint, exonerated, unfounded and insufficient evidence.
A majority vote of the board would be required to determine the outcome.
The review board will not make recommendations about possible discipline if the allegations are sustained; instead, a summary report would detail why the board voted as it did and why that choice might differ from what the police department found. The review board also will indicate whether the matter was referred to the police chief or mayor.