Smiling white man

Officer Adam Coy

The website, also referred to as “Serve Us,” is once again being vindicated for what it reveals in the wake of the recent police shooting of Andre Hill: that the Columbus Division of Police could be one of the most undisciplined and unaccountable police departments in the nation, and that Hill’s killer, officer Adam Coy, should have been fired early in his career.

The website came about in June after a group of anonymous activists made a public records request for all citizen complaints against the division from January of 2001 to July of 2020.

The City of Columbus promptly handed over a spreadsheet listing nearly 25,000 citizen complaints or allegations. No surprise is the spreadsheet is vague and extremely limited in detail. For a complaint’s disposition or final outcome, most of the time only a single word is given, such as “unfounded” or “sustained” or “exonerated.”

Keep this is mind – if an individual were to take the time, effort and courage to file a complaint against an officer, that individual likely had good reason to do so. Yet out of the 25,000 complaints many were deemed “unfounded,” perhaps filed out of revenge or spite. Because the division has a history of refusing to hold its own officers accountable, the spreadsheets dispositions cannot be trusted.

The activists behind believe what stands out is how a small number of officers have a shockingly high number of allegations and Officer Coy is one of them. In the wake of the shooting, Chief Thomas Quinlan is recommending Coy be terminated by the Department of Public Safety, and it could come early this week.

“It was surprising to know that there were a few officers that had numerous allegations and citizens’ complaints against them, and they were still on the force. That was most surprising of all,” said one of the activists to the Free Press this past weekend, anonymously. That a citizen must have anonymity to criticize their own police is telling.

The spreadsheet reveals a lengthy record of citizen complaints against officer Coy beginning early in his career. Coy has 82 “use of force” complaints between 2001 to 2017, which include striking with hands or feet, use of mace or injuring someone.

Each of his 82 use of force complaints was not filed by one citizen of Columbus. Citizens often file multiple complaints per incident. For example, the spreadsheet shows many of the use of force complaints also include a rudeness or inappropriate language complaint, and Coy had over 20 of those complaints by 2012.

There are alarms on top of alarms coming from the spreadsheet – many excessive force complaints against the division also include an allegation of rudeness, but sometimes this combination had a third complaint connected to the incident, and that’s missing or damaged property.

Indeed, Coy had this triple combination alleged against him in 2002, believed to be his first or second year on the job. Later in 2002 a second missing or damaged property complaint was alleged against Coy. His first missing or damaged property allegation that year was ruled “unfounded,” while his second was “sustained,” meaning there was evidence or proof of guilt.

Out of his 82 force complaints only two were “sustained,” the others were deemed actions within policy, unfounded or not sustained. The two allegations occurred in 2012 in the middle of the night when Coy banged the head of DUI suspect on the hood of a police cruiser and didn’t realize a nearby witness saw the entire thing. The city ended up giving out a $45,000 settlement.

When you compare officer Adam Coy’s disciplinary record to several officers the Free Press wrote about this past summer –
Time to throw away the Bad Apples” – Coy’s record is comparable or not as bad, which is hard to fathom. Coy, by the way, is a graduate of North Union High School in Union County, about an hour’s drive northwest of Columbus. He is also a US Army veteran.

A citizen complaint is first investigated by Internal Affairs (IA) and an IA commanding officer then makes a suggestion to the officer’s chain of command on what discipline to take.

But as reported before, several current Columbus police officers who spoke to us anonymously say the Division of Police, in a sense, is rogue and unable to police itself because of the “clique” or “corrupt cabal” that has essentially controlled the division for decades. Chief Thomas Quinlan, a 30-year veteran of the division, is part of the clique, as was former Chief Kim Jacobs (2012-2019), the division’s first woman and openly gay Chief of Police, who still holds influence within the division, said the anonymous officers.

The anonymous officers added that this clique also has control of Internal Affairs, and because of this, investigations “never hardly ever come out unless there is hard evidence against the officer,” said one of these officers.

“I think people are mostly surprised by the numbers,” said the anonymous member from “Meaning again that there are multiple officers that have numerous complaints against them. And these allegations show that they’re not serving their community and, in most organizations and most businesses, if you’re not doing your job you shouldn’t stay in your job. And many people are wondering why these officers with so many complaints still have a job.”