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‘How Do We Respond as a Community?’

Posted June 1, 2020 in Uncategorized by David Ball

The following is a joint message to the Hilliard community from City Manager Michelle Crandall and Police Chief Robert Fisher.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

The tragic loss of one life has deeply affected us all. We watched in shock and anger the needless death of George Floyd from the unnecessary use of force by Minneapolis police officers. In the past several days, we have witnessed our nation and communities ravaged by pain, anger, and frustration. We have seen tens of thousands of people come together in peaceful protests, calling for accountability for those responsible for Mr. Floyd’s death and for meaningful action to address other acts of racial hatred.  We have also seen unfortunate demonstrations of violence and destruction. 

How should we as a community respond to how all of this impacts us collectively?

The members of City Council and City staff, including our Division of Police personnel, believe in equality and community dialogue for positive action. We support and protect the rights of peaceful protesters, but not violent rioting that threatens human life and destruction of property. 

We will not be naïve to think that racism and discrimination do not exist here. We can, however, work every day to make our community and our country better. That starts by listening and having difficult conversations that result in action.

We are at an ideal time to start this dialogue. The City is preparing for the development of a strategic plan for the future of our community. This plan will cover things such as economic development, land use, and parks and recreation, but we also will use it as a starting point for other conversations, including these questions:

Who do we want to be as a community?

What are our core values?

How can we understand, embrace, and celebrate our differences?

How can we ensure we are a community of choice where every person can feel safe, welcomed, and at home?

The Hilliard Division of Police is focused on collaborative partnerships with our community and has been listening and addressing resident questions and concerns related to our community’s safety since this tragedy occurred. We’ve shared information about how our officers respond to situations that require de-escalation and are proud that our officers continually train on this topic.

Each year, our officers practice scenarios designed to defuse potentially violent events and continually reinforce our fundamental expectation of bias-free policing.  HPD will continue to ensure fair and objective policing response regardless of race.

HPD invests significant time in relationship-building with all parts of our community, because we know solutions start with mutual understanding and trust. To us, community policing is more than a catchphrase — it’s ingrained in our mission. The division is constantly evaluating its actions, and reports results from bias-free policing and other expectations.

Hilliard was one of several suburban law enforcement agencies in central Ohio that was asked by Columbus Division of Police to send officers to assist in downtown Columbus recently.  That support aligns with our primary mission of protecting lives and maintaining order, and we fully respect everyone’s freedom to safely and peacefully protest.

These are challenging times, but we can become a better nation and a better community if everyone is dedicated to addressing this challenge and embracing the idea that change starts with understanding.  Let’s continue to work together to ensure every voice is heard and that Hilliard remains a safe community that everyone can call home.