Editor’s note: This letter includes information about the mutual aid agreements between University Police and Columbus Police. Below is an accurate explanation of these agreements and joint patrol programs.

University Police and the Columbus Police Department have separate jurisdictions; University Police respond to calls on-campus, while Columbus Police respond to off-campus calls. The two departments have a joint patrol program in which one officer from each department patrols the immediate off-campus area on bikes from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. 

Criminal Patrol, another joint patrol program between Columbus Police and University Police, operates on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights during the Ohio State academic year. The program involves city and University Police officers riding together in a police cruiser.

In addition to the joint patrol programs, a mutual aid agreement was made in 2012 between Columbus Police and University Police that allows University Police officers witnessing a crime in progress to pursue a suspect into the immediate off-campus area.

The mutual aid agreement between University Police and Columbus Police allows the university police officer to provide additional resources to students if they are victims of a crime. Dan Hedman, a university spokesperson, said in an email, “There is also an understanding that OSUPD and CPD will share crime related information in an effort to investigate crimes and further inform the campus community of potential threats.”

Because the university is within the city limits, Columbus Police has “full legal authority and jurisdiction on campus,” Hedman said. “Because OSUPD exists, CPD does not routinely handle calls for service or conduct investigations that originate on campus.”

June 1, 2020

Dear Roaya Higazi, Stephen Post and Jordan Vajda:

First, I would like to acknowledge your efforts in quickly anticipating the needs of much of the Black community at Ohio State by initiating dialogue with the executive leadership of the university. I witnessed the protests on May 31, and like you, I believe that the aggressive behavior exhibited by certain members of the Columbus Police Department unnecessarily elevated tensions. Such actions are reprehensible and can incite needless violence.

I have read your “Statement on the injustices against the Black Community and Columbus Protestors by the Columbus Police Department.” Considering Ohio State’s immense influence and financial leverage, I understand the inclination to call our university to act progressively and urgently. The university should be working toward ensuring a safe environment for all students, including the Black student population during these hostile times. I also recognize your apprehension for potentially having these same power-abusing officers policing our students both on campus and in the surrounding area. But have you truly pondered all the short- and long-term impacts of some of your demands? Do your demands truly solve the problems at hand?

To begin, I recognize the following concerns affecting our community:

  • Aggressive policing threatens student safety.
  • Racial stereotyping often emboldens officers to abuse power when policing.
  • Recent interactions suggest that racial profiling and systemic incompetency exist within the police system.
  • Use of overly hostile crowd dispersing methods elevates tensions within relatively peaceful protest crowds.

Yet, having no competent policing threatens the safety of students and all who visit Ohio State. Will an immediate cease in contractual agreements actually solve these problems?

A few questions to consider:

  1. What role does Columbus Police serve for Ohio State students currently?
    • How will and can University Police or Ohio State Public Safety support off-campus students without Columbus Police?
      • A lot of crime occurs on the East side of High Street and appears to be beyond University Police jurisdiction. Columbus Police seems to be needed to maintain safety beyond campus borders.
    • What are the response times between University Police versus Columbus Police when addressing off-campus and on-campus concerns? Would OSUPD be able to satisfy these concerns on their own?
    •  How often do benign calls escalate into needless violence?
      • No student should ever have to suffer police brutality. Is there any student willing to provide their own accounts of police brutality anonymously or publicly while on campus or the qualifying off-campus community?
      • The demands have been made assuming that the only population that the Columbus Police interacts with are unarmed Black individuals. While this population may be disproportionately affected, would not the student body at large and the Black community benefit more from a revised contract rather than a complete cutting of ties?
  2. What role could Ohio State play in reforming Columbus Police?
    • Would we contribute to a new standards of behavior policy?
    • How could we monitor and ensure that the standards of behavior were being met?
    • Would a compliance coordinator or team evaluate whether Columbus Police adhered to the standards of behavior?
    • Would students and the Columbus community have access to Columbus Police performance reports regarding their compliance with a new standards of behavior policy?
  3. How could we ensure that University Police can ensure safety if the Columbus Police partnership is ended immediately and completely?
    • Who would serve as the alternative providers of policing services?
    • Some armed policing is necessary for different environments: How would this demilitarization affect football games, basketball games, and other large-scale events like graduation or move-in day?
    • How would the university respond to an active shooter without the backup of Columbus Police?
  4. While the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Student Life Multicultural Center, and the Counseling and Consultation Services need more funding to truly meet students’ needs, must the safety of over 60,000 individuals be compromised by severely reducing the policing capabilities of the campus community without a formal plan in place?

Again, I am in no way seeking to exonerate the aggressive behavior exhibited by several Columbus Police officers this past weekend or to invalidate countless other told and untold experiences. I support the efforts toward demanding justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and peaceful protests should not be met with such pugnacity as they can incite negative crowd reactions. Police reform benefits all, especially the Black community.

Still, I must profess my misgivings about the course of action demanded in your open letter. I would be dishonest if I did not reveal my disappointment in your decision to circulate such a controversial document without the consent of the student body. You are leaders of the Undergraduate STUDENT Government, the Council of Graduate STUDENTS and the Inter-Professional Council of STUDENT affairs [emphasis kept]. The choice to make such extreme demands on behalf of the student body without their consent concerns me deeply.

I am also skeptical of the method of the letter’s dissemination and the inclusion of those who aren’t Ohio State students on the petition. Your actions seem to prioritize “going viral” over representing the genuine concerns of the student body.

Finally, the demand for response “without hesitation” leaves no room for debating the array of consequences of such a substantial decision. By insisting on a swift reaction, I feel that you are taking advantage of the emotional state of most signers of your petition, who probably do not fully understand the gravity of such a document. For you to pressure the university to make such critical decisions in a shortsighted manner will result in dangerous consequences.

On the other hand, I do agree that the university could use its sizable influence to serve as a catalyst for true change in the fight against police brutality. I too doubt that Columbus Police will make the needed changes on its own. But, as a concerned student, I challenge you to three courses of action:

  1. Amend your demands.
    Because the petition is already circulating and you have necessitated a response within 48 hours, I recognize the difficulty of formally adjusting your proposition. Despite this inconvenience, I urge you to seriously consider the questions I have presented and to include them in your discussion with the executive leadership.
  2. Provide a formal plan.
    A proper plan should have been outlined before publicly pressuring the university to cut ties.
  3. Know who you represent.
    Please remember that you are the leaders and representatives of Ohio State students. Solicit the opinions of actual students before making demands on behalf of the entire student body.

In the end, police brutality is an incredibly complex issue and requires solutions far more nuanced than those you have presented. I urge you to truly deliberate the ramifications of ceasing all contractual agreements with Columbus Police.


Brooke B.

Concerned Ohio State Student

The Lantern verified that this letter was sent to the presidents of the student governments.