YWCA Columbus | Statement |
YWCA Columbus submitted written testimony for the Columbus City Council hearing on Reimagining Public Safety.
You can view our statement below as well as additional resources and information about the shooting of Casey Goodson:
WRITTEN TESTIMONY FOR REIMAGINING PUBLIC SAFETY
SUBMITTED BY LALITHA PAMIDIGANTAM, POLICY ANALYST
BEFORE COLUMBUS CITY COUNCIL
DECEMBER 8, 2020
The recent tragic shooting of Casey Goodson comes after a summer of civil unrest surrounding police brutality and once again highlights how deeply entrenched institutional racism is within our society. Casey Goodson was minutes away from entering his grandmother’s home when he was shot by Franklin County Deputy Jason Meade, pursuing an unrelated issue. We at YWCA Columbus are in mourning with the rest of the community. As we work towards reimagining public safety in Columbus, we want to highlight that Casey Goodson’s death is tragic, yet not an isolated incident. The Columbus police department, as highlighted by the Matrix report and months of community engagement, has a long way to go in addressing its deep-rooted systemic racism.
We recognize the history of policing in this country. Policing began with the intentions of slave-hunting and union-busting, culturally embedding racism into the institution to this day. Additionally, a sociological perspective on crime shows us that oppressed communities have historically been denied opportunities to rise out of intentional cyclical violence. Systems of power and anti-Black racism are baked into governance at every level, and they manifest in the tragic harm perpetrated against Black people. Unraveling that takes innovation and unprecedented application of critical perspectives to public institutions. To clearly break the patterns of racism and intergenerational trauma caused by institutional racism, we must take an intersectional approach to any and all reform.
We commend Columbus City Council for their efforts in pushing forth a budget that critically engages with reimagining public safety. Public safety is not just about police relations with community members or with neighborhoods. Public safety is tied to public health, employment, education, and more. Reimagining public safety must be a holistic process towards an equitable future. We as a community must stop placing the blame on the victims, and take responsibility for the harm caused institutionally to our Black residents. Until we achieve a reality where public safety really means safety for Black people, we will not be finished with the work.
We recommend the following for consideration in police reform efforts:
- Less reliance on police to respond to mental health emergencies by increasing resources to mental health agencies and staff to handle these situations
- Continued and broad community engagement in all conversations for police reform and public safety
- Increased training on de-escalation tactics for officers and implicit bias training for all public safety personnel
We look forward to working with the City to move the needle forward on long- overdue changes for our community.
Resources and Information: