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Ohioans may be concerned about the current changes in Columbus policing, what it means and whether it will affect them. 

As the Columbus Dispatch reports, the Columbus Police Department recently made changes to its policy, directing officers to refrain from arrests for most nonviolent misdemeanors. This would include shoplifting and petty theft, as well as other nonviolent misdemeanor offenses. While earlier iterations discouraged these arrests, the new policy bans it outright. 

Are misdemeanors still crimes?

It is important to note that this change does not make anything legal that was previously illegal; in fact, it does not change the law at all. It simply directs officers to refrain from making arrests for most nonviolent misdemeanor offenses. 

Some other cities have recently enacted similar measures to stop marijuana possession and other nonviolent arrests. They argue that it clears law enforcement and courts to focus on more serious crimes and that it helps nonviolent offenders avoid criminal records that could affect their future possibilities. 

This policy change applies only to the Columbus Police Department and does not affect state law or other officials. State police can still make arrests for shoplifting and all other crimes, and offenders can expect to face prosecution. 

Can CPD still make arrests?

CPD may still make some arrests. For instance, they may make an arrest for misdemeanor crimes in relation to other crimes, such as sex crimes or violent crimes. They may make arrests for chronic offenders, and they may be able to detain offenders to search for an outstanding warrant. 

If police wish to make another arrest, they must first file a report to gain permission from the City Attorney’s office before taking action.