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Columbus police are changing when arrest warrants are served

A row of parked Columbus police cars
David Holm

In the wake of last week’s deadly shooting of Donavan Lewis, an unarmed Black man, the Columbus Division of Police is changing when most arrests warrants can be served.

Lewis was fatally shot by Columbus Police officer Ricky Anderson around 2 a.m. on August 30 as he and other officers served an arrest warrant for Lewis at a Hilltop apartment.

A memo distributed by Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant on Thursday said “no pre-planned arrest warrants shall be served at private residences for all misdemeanor offenses, including domestic violence, and non-violent felony offenses between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. without the prior approval of a lieutenant or above.”

The arrest warrant for Lewis included a felony charge of improperly handling of a firearm, and misdemeanor charges of domestic violence and assault.

The new warrant policy will not apply to tactical units like SWAT teams. Bryant also said overnight warrants could still be served when there are “dangerous, exigent circumstances."

The memo did not specifically cite the shooting of Lewis, who "This does not change the good work you do but temporarily changes how you do it,” the memo also said. “As I have said before, I support you and will always look for ways to help you do your job safely and effectively."

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Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and son. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.