Ginther Imposes Excessive Show of Force to Prevent Crime in the Short North
COLUMBUS, OH – In order to witness firsthand Andy Ginther’s show of force and willingness to “spend whatever it takes to make our city safe” I walked the sidewalks of the Short North for nearly one hour on Friday night. The police presence was overwhelming. I was informed that 150 members of law enforcement were present. Motorcycles, bikes, foot patrol, horses, canine units, helicopter, and cruisers. And it was also reported that drones were used. And I am certain that many Short North residents were not thrilled about the hours of constant noise from a helicopter. One officer told me he was being paid double time - $120 an hour. And although the Short North was probably the safest place to be in Columbus last night, the excessive use of law enforcement along with the sound of a police helicopter overhead, presented a feeling of uneasiness.
What did all of this accomplish and was it worth the cost? Did the Short North business district warrant heightened police presence after back-back weekends of violence? If I were mayor, I would agree. To the extent of Friday night? No way. I would have ordered vehicles removed from High Street at 10 p.m. I would have directed foot patrols of 30 officers and 10 bicycle patrols. No motorcycles, helicopters, horses, canine units, or drones. I would not have mandated that food vendors shut down at midnight. I would have honored the agreement that City Council made with the food vendors several months ago to close at 2:00 a.m. I would have never requested or especially threatened business owners as Ginther did by stating, “they would have the full and undivided attention of city, county and state law enforcement" if the business owners did not voluntarily comply to shut their doors at midnight.
Blue collar, and often immigrant and minority food truck owners are being used as scapegoats while Ginther denies any responsibility and accountability for crime and homicides. An employee of a food truck informed me that if his boss could not make a decent profit, the worker would be laid off. The employee explained to me that he had to work two jobs to make ends meet and care for his children.
I sense that this unnecessary excessive show of force was due to a culmination of political pressure from Ginther’s Short North developer and business associates who dictate his every move, as well as concern for optics when the Conference of Mayors convention he is hosting will arrive on June 1st. The Short North District will be one of, if not the main attraction for the visitors to the Mayor’s convention. I have to wonder if Mayor Andy is going to provide the mayors and their entourage with taxpayer-paid bullet proof vests and bodyguards, or just shut down the Short North to the general public during the convention.