Columbus Police Department’s morning shift did not report this morning in an apparent deliberate protest.
Chief Fred Shelton said that four patrol officers and a supervisor did not show up for work at 5:45 a.m. today after they all called in sick.
There were supposed to be two supervisors on that shift, Shelton said, but the other is on vacation.
“(Patrol Captain Anthony Nelson) and I came in and we called in officers from another shift to work,” Shelton said. “The streets are being covered.”
Shelton said he didn’t know why the officers didn’t show up, and he has never seen a whole shift call in sick.
“I have no clue why, I have not heard from any of them,” he said. “I’ve never had something like this happen in all the years that I’ve been here.”
A current CPD officer, who spoke to The Dispatch on condition of anonymity due to job security concerns, said the action is a deliberate attempt to draw the attention of the mayor’s office and the public to unrest in the department.
“They know they can’t picket because they are police officers,” he said.
The officer said that concerns range from salaries to selective enforcement of the rules to failure to get special pay for work during the COVID-19 pandemic. He alleged that corporals were doing the work of lieutenants but not getting promoted.
Mayor Keith Gaskin said his office is already looking at morale problems in the police department.
“It’s no secret morale is an issue,” he said. “People point in different directions about the blame for that.”
Gaskin said his office is doing an “anonymous evaluation” of the police department and asking officers to weigh in on the leadership and problems with the department.
“I don’t believe the department is in the 21st century as far as the equipment and personnel,” Gaskin said. “That department was the last one in the city to get an across-the-board raise, so I don’t think you can blame it all on raises.”
Shelton said the officers who failed to report will not be paid if they don’t provide doctors’ excuses. He said that further discipline can be recommended if the officers were found to have abused sick leave.
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