When: Columbia Borough Council meeting, July 28.
What happened: Four citizens spoke about the Columbia Police Department, with many statements focused on the redacted police use-of-force policy released on the borough website July 17. Three citizens — Carlos Jimenez Jr., Robert Misciagna and Scott Frederick — expressed that too much of the policy is blocked from public view, while Ron Bartch seemed to be against releasing the full policy, saying citizens should expect some kind of force if they break the law.
Mayor’s response: Mayor Leo Lutz said the use-of-force policy has not been released in full because of frequent state legislative changes. He also said the policy will further change as the police department seeks to become “certified” by the state. In an email exchange after the meeting, police Chief Jack Brommer clarified the police department is seeking to become an accredited police agency through the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, a process that he said may take multiple years. He stated the police department began seeking accreditation almost two months ago.
Police budget demands: Jimenez, who said he was an organizer of the Lancaster protests following the killing of George Floyd, demanded that the borough reallocate $1.5 million away from the police department and into affordable housing and public transport in the 2021 budget. He requested that the borough make a decision on those funds by Aug. 28.
Threats: Misciagna claimed that councilperson Sharon Lintner has received death threats for marching in two protests against police brutality. Later, during a statement in support of the protests, Lintner confirmed she has received threats of some kind. “I have no regrets about my participation in the protests, in spite of multiple threats. I will continue to support the movement for social justice,” she said.
Budget deficit: A 2019 audit report by Sager, Swisher & Co. showed the borough had a $2.8 million deficit. Total expenditures were $7.9 million, while revenues were $5.1 million.
Next meeting: The next council meeting will be held Aug. 6 instead of Aug. 4.