Article Comment 

Our View: Lewis' response to rogue officer inadequate




Tuesday, during the Columbus city council's regular meeting, a personnel matter will be discussed in executive session. Typically, the nature of these personnel matters is a mystery. 


But in this case, it's the worst-kept secret in town. 


On Tuesday, the council will meet in executive session to consider the status of Columbus Police Officer Keith Dowd. We strongly believe he should be fired. 


We also believe the council should include another personnel matter while they are at it, the grossly inadequate response of Police Chief Oscar Lewis. 


At around 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, Dowd pulled over a motorist, presumably for speeding. The officer's exchange with the motorist, captured on Dowd's body camera, was 13 minutes of accusations, falsehoods and, ultimately, a veiled threat by the officer to "empty a magazine (from his service weapon) into the car." 


The driver remained calm and compliant, responding to Dowd's questions, with "yes sir" and "no sir." It is frightening to think what the outcome might have been had the driver not maintained his poise. 


When Lewis learned of the incident, he responded by giving Dowd a written reprimand and ordering him to take online classes on communication practices. 


This is an absurdly insufficient response to a serious, serious issue. 


Dowd remains on patrol three weeks after his ugly confrontation with that motorist.  


We believe his conduct proves him to be a lighted fuse -- a menace to public safety -- and a contradiction to the city's stated claims of wanting to improve police/community relationships. 


Seven weeks ago, the city was presented with the results of an evaluation of the CPD conducted over a six-month period earlier this year by consultant K.B. Tuner. The 95-page report included a scathing indictment of Lewis' performance as chief and called for the city to find a new leader for the department. 


The city chose instead to develop an action plan for Lewis to follow as a means of addressing the many issues the Turner report contained. 


The Dowd incident changes everything. 


Lewis' absurdly lenient and potentially dangerous response to this situation reinforces Turner's conclusions. 


There is no place in the city of Columbus for an officer who bullies and threatens a citizen. Likewise, there is no place in the city for a police chief who does not take such conduct seriously. 


Both Dowd and Lewis have demonstrated that they are unworthy of community's trust. 


How the city council responds will demonstrate if it is worthy of that trust as well. 


The time for half-measures has passed.



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