Commissioners discuss safety and a city-wide election program

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By Katelyn Sattler
Staff Writer

Sgt. Fred Brophy, with the Columbus Division of Police, gave a safety update at a recent Greater Hilltop Area Commission meeting.

“I believe this is the third meeting in a row where I’ve talked about an increase in theft in the area,” said Brophy in December.

He mentioned a suspect was caught by a Tesla camera.

“That’s a real problem for us to solve because a lot of times it’s happening under the cover of dark. There’s not a lot of predictive stuff that we can do about it, so it was nice that they actually paid attention to the fact that they may have had a video of this,” said Brophy.

Columbus police have a contract with Ring Doorbell, so if a crime is recorded on a the system, police will be able to access the video. With other video doorbell cameras, a property crimes detective will need to come out to get it because it may be too large a file to send it to CPD via email.

In other news, the commission un-tabled a motion to participate in a city-wide area commission election pilot from the November meeting.

A variety of opinions were expressed.

At that meeting, commissioner Jennie Keplar, said the government and legislation committee expressed qualms about a city-wide area commission election.

“The Hilltop has a history with previous mayors meddling in our elections,” she said. “This makes us vulnerable to outside interests. The previous mayor would have a hand-picked slate of his endorsed candidates run and win because he would send out literature to every household campaigning for his candidates.”

Commission chair Rachel Wenning said participating in the pilot program, “gives us a kind of budget to advertise more widely,” although, “it complicates things with our commission with the schedule we’ve established.”

Wenning did not want to participate in the pilot program because she wants to avoid outside influence. She believes it should be “limited to people who live in the Hilltop and organizations that operate here and our residents.”

Commissioner Zerqa Abid said it’s necessary to help the 70,000 neighbors know what the commission is and that an increase in participation would also increase diversity on the commission.

Commissioner Patrick Barnacle said the commission does need more participation. He also thinks the Franklin County Democratic party is getting involved and choosing partners.

Commissioner Geoffrey Phillips doesn’t see ever going to a system “where every area of our jurisdiction actually has a commissioner. I feel this gets us there quicker and much easier and a lot less painful.”

The motion to participate in the city-wide area commission election pilot failed in a five-to-five tie with three abstentions.

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