Brian Steel is seeking a spot on the Worthington Board of Education. He's also a Columbus police officer and vice president of the FOP Capital City Lodge #9

No surprise is how the Columbus Division of Police and its union, the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge #9, are heavy with MAGA.

The Free Press and the community understand why some of our police, if not a majority, are this way. The Division is mostly white and male, many reside in rural counties outside Columbus, and last, but certainly not least, some harbor anger towards their perceived outlook of America’s future.

The job of a police officer is dangerous and stressful, and we need police to protect are most vulnerable. They deserve good pay and good cops deserve respect.

But what is not okay is Columbus police and its union forcing  extremist political ideology onto the community (especially young people).

One unnerving concern facing this entire nation is, how far will MAGA go to get their way?

Threatening local school board members has become MAGAs latest method to purge their colonic anger. And as the November 2 general election approaches, Worthington Board of Education school board member and incumbent Nikki Hudson has been on the receiving end of anonymous letters replete with MAGA threats.

According to a recent Channel 10 WBNS news story, Hudson received a letter stating, “We are coming after you.” And that “pain and suffering” has been inflicted on students because of “critical race theory,” and that wearing masks in schools for “no reason in this world other than control.”

Anonymous threats by MAGA are nothing new. But in the case of the upcoming Worthington Board of Education vote these threats stand apart because one of Hudson’s opponents is 43-year-old Brian Steel, a Columbus police officer who’s also vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge #9.

Pictured above is a placard or pamphlet being circulated by Steel’s supporters. Steel has said neither he nor his campaign published that placard or pamphlet. But he hasn’t denied he’s MAGA.

In the summer of 2020, when Hudson was president of the Worthington school board, she brought a vote to remove Student Resource Officers or SROs, who are police officers, from both of Worthington’s high schools, Thomas Worthington (1,800 students) and Worthington Kilbourne (1,400 students). The vote passed.

Since then, a vocal minority have put a target on Hudson’s back.

“There was a side of our community that was very grateful and pleased,” said Hudson to the Free Press earlier this year. “And there was a side of our community that was very upset, including some who claimed that we voted out law enforcement and should be voted out of the board, and one who went so far as to tell me that if anything ever happens within our schools then the blood of those children is on our hands.”

Hudson did not wish to comment for this article.

The Free Press has mentioned before how some of those who work and volunteer for the paper also work with our community’s young people as teachers or social workers.

We can attest that both high schools standout as some of the best schools in Central Ohio. The student body is diverse and genuinely happy. The teachers are dedicated. And like any high school, there are instances of misbehavior and fighting, but arguably not to the extent a uniformed police officer is warranted.

What is telling is how some Worthington students and alumni took it upon themselves to have the SROs removed before Hudson brought the vote to the board. In the summer of 2020, following the death of George Floyd, a petition initiated by current students and alumni called for Worthington schools to cut ties with Columbus and Worthington police. The petitioned garnered 1,850 signatures.

In the summer of 2021, a group of current Worthington high school students initiated a petition to have the SROs returned to both high schools. This petition has resulted in 531 signatures.

Data shows police officers in schools detrimentally affects students of color and does not make schools safer from mass tragic events.

“It was an evidence-based decision, which is what we should do in the world of education. We do it with our curriculum,” said Hudson in the previous Free Press article about the 2020 vote to remove SROs.

Besides that data, the Worthington school board was receiving first-hand evidence – from the students themselves.

“Students of color who I have heard from feel very uncomfortable with an armed white police officer in their high school,” said then-Worthington school board member Charlie Wilson at a board meeting in the summer of 2020.

What’s more, Worthington high school students were posting online the SROs were acting on their own accord without any regard for the school administration’s authority.

In one post, a female student expressed how every single day she entered the school building the SRO would stand in her path, make her say ‘hi’ to him, and he treated no other student this way. The student believed the officer was being inappropriate.

At the end of the 2020-2021 school year, the Worthington Board of Education met with a group of high school students to talk about safety. The students’ conversation was 95 percent about mental health and 5 percent about physical safety. Talk of needing the SROs back in schools barely came up.

When considering both online petitions to remove or return SROs to either Worthington high schools, again, the petition to remove registered 1,850 signatures while the petition to return had less than half of that, only 531 signatures.

In today’s culture where screentime and an online presence has become almost omnipresent to our young people, these petitions strongly suggest a majority of Worthington high school students have spoken.