Multiple Police Involved Shootings Have Community in Uproar

by on March 7th, 2015
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Columbus, Ohio isn’t having a very good year. So far, there have been 59 homicides and 13 police-involved shootings. The violence between police and civilians has touched nearly every part of the city, from well-to-do Westerville to the already troubled Southeast side. Considering that 6 of the years’ police-involved shootings have occurred during the month of August- with three in a single week- some residents are questioning the methods of the Columbus Police Department.

The most recent incident involved 21 year old Obbie L. Sheppard. Initially, police were called because of a stolen bike but ended up shooting Sheppard an alleged 8 times as he attempted to flee, after being hit by a Columbus Police cruiser. There was initially controversy over whether or not Sheppard had fired a gun at police, but a gun was later found at the scene. Reports released state that Sheppard died of a gunshot wound but authorities refuse to release the location of the fatal wound at this time.

Mayor Michael Coleman falls back on blaming “the guns on the streets” for the violence seen all around the city. He has instituted numerous programs to get the citizenry to give up their weapons, but has failed to genuinely address the root of the problems faced by Columbus communities. Previously, the Mayor has been under fire for his many poorly-timed photo-ops, including a day spent working at a local McDonalds and another spent breaking ground for the citys’ new Casino. Seen as largely ineffectual and unable to control his own personal issues, many are calling for a new mayor with more sensitivity to the issues faced by Columbus residents. In his most recent press conference, Coleman has decided that this is the “Summer of Intervention,” a title considered in poor taste by many who believe that the high number of shootings involving the CPD is seen as retaliation instead of intervention.

Some Columbus residents are laying blame solely at the feet of the citys’ leadership and police force, calling for retaliation against officers. Some threats are more credible than others, but CPD is taking them all very seriously. The police believe that any talk of retaliation is greatly influenced by some of the citys’ gang members, and are taking precautions. CPD isn’t forthcoming with details about their plans to protect themselves and avoid possible ambushes, but the known details include doubling up patrol cars in known trouble spots and daily meetings to discuss tactics and information.

With fears rising on both sides of the equation, a group of local pastors have gotten together to try to come up with solutions for the violence plaguing the streets of Columbus. Many other residents are attempting to become more involved in their surrounding communities in order to stop violent acts before they have a chance to occur. As more of the community becomes involved with their own protection, we all stand a better chance of escaping the violence erupting all around us and teaching others that there are better ways to solve conflicts, or to even avoid them altogether.

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