After a series of scandals and investigations, Ohio's capital city is disbanding its police department's unit that was supposed to focus on "moral crimes."
Columbus' vice unit has been subject to internal and FBI investigations, and came under scrutiny last year when vice officers arrested adult film actress Stormy Daniels at a strip club. More recently, charges were brought against Columbus vice squad officer Andrew Mitchell, 55, alleging he forced two women to have sex with them under threat of an arrest.
Interim Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan announced the closing of the vice unit Tuesday on Twitter, saying the remaining officers will be assigned to other departments. Three of the vice unit's 10 officers are currently under suspension.
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Quinlan said that vice-related crimes, now under the narcotics division, will be handled differently and with a more community-based approach.
CPD Announces Major Change in Narcotics Bureau-abolishing Vice Section assignments which fall under the Narcotics Bureau. Vice-related crimes will be addressed using a community-centered approach. Tonight Chief Quinlan met w/remaining Vice officers who will seek new assignments. pic.twitter.com/FFV0uFt5hj
Mitchell was charged with witness tampering, obstruction of justice, making a false statement to federal investigators, and deprivation of rights under color of law, the language used to describe crimes committed by police officers while on duty.
Mitchell has also been investigated by state authorities after police said he fatally shot a woman who stabbed him in the hand while sitting in his unmarked police car.
Donna Castleberry, 23, had struggled with drugs and was likely a sex worker, her family has said. She left behind two young daughters.
Committing the alleged crimes while on duty is "a nightmarish breach of trust," said Ben Glassman, the U.S. attorney for the southern half of Ohio.
"We rely on the police to serve and protect us, and when you have a police officer who commits a crime, that is a very serious breach of trust," he said.
Meanwhile, Daniels' federal defamation lawsuit alleges that officers conspired to retaliate against her because of her claims she had sex with Donald Trump before he became president. An investigation determined the arrest was improper.