More than a dozen letters said to be from police officers and employees allege that there is rampant racism and mistreatment inside the Columbus Police Department.
The release of the letters comes a year after the Ohio department started its own investigation and assessment following similar concerns in 2018.
One of the anonymous letters wrote that "there are officers and supervisors who take advantage of their power and rank and often use that power and rank to try to eliminate or at the very least give minority officers a difficult time.”
The letters were obtained by a group of faith leaders in Columbus who say they have been fielding complaints from various police officers throughout the past year. Sister Barbara Kane, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, was one of those faith leaders involved with the release of the letters which were published in the Columbus Free Press on Tuesday.
She told ABC News that the point of releasing the letters was to ensure that the mayor, leadership within the police department and the public had the opportunity to read the letters.
Kane said that she feels the letters show the police department “is not a healthy environment.”
“The bigger issue for us as clergy, if it’s bad on the inside, it’s going to flow out into the neighborhoods and that’s a great concern, obviously,” Kane said.
“I can truthfully say that the unfairness in punishment, along with favoritism, racism, and nepotism are at an all-time high here at CPD," wrote an anonymous writer in one letter who claims that they have been working for the department for 30 years.
“What's even sadder is that it's gotten so blatant around here that some of the people know they can do whatever and know for certain their punishment will be next to nothing and then smile about it. Punishment for misconduct should be the same for all. Not to mention the bullying that goes on for those who stand up for themselves or apply for certain jobs,” that author wrote.
The Columbus Police Department did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Mayor Andrew Ginther released a statement following the disclosure of the letters, saying that the city “takes all allegations of discrimination seriously.”
The review process over the past year, both in assessing the state of the department and in the search for a new chief of police, has involved the work of consultants and panels and calls for input from the public. Ginther highlighted one such public meeting that was held Tuesday night.
“Strong, positive relationships among police officers and residents are imperative for Columbus as we move forward. I am encouraged by the public’s involvement to date and look forward to implementing change,” Ginther said in the statement.