A vice unit is a police division responsible for investigating “moral crimes” such as gambling, prostitution, narcotics, and illegal alcohol sales. But due to a rash of scandals that have called the morality of its officers into question, Columbus, Ohio, no longer has one.
Columbus became subject to internal and FBI investigations after botching the arrest of presidential paramour Stormy Daniels and the unveiling of abhorrent behavior at the hands of vice squad officer Andrew Mitchell—which includes being charged with forcing two women to have sex with him under the threat of arrest.
As we previously reported:
[Mitchell] was indicted last week on three counts of depriving individuals of their civil rights under color of law and two counts of witness tampering, along with a single charge of obstruction of justice. His indictments were unsealed Monday.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Todd Wickerham called the accusations “shocking” and “revolting,” according to the Daily Beast.
According to WBNS, Mitchell is believed to have arrested nearly 200 women over the last two years while he was detective for the city’s Vice unit. One such woman told the station that she was charged after refusing sex with him. According to U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman, Mitchell lied when questioned by the FBI.
“Specifically, when they asked if he had sex with prostitutes,” Glassman said at a press conference Monday, “he lied to them.”
Of his hundreds of arrests, authorities allege Mitchell victimized at least three women, trading oral, vaginal and anal sex in exchange for their release.
As a result of these findings, Interim Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan announced on Twitter that the vice unit would be disbanded and the remaining officers will be reassigned to other departments in order to enforce a “community approach” on crimes of this nature. But in providing context, according to NBC News, three of the vice unit’s 10 officers are currently under suspension.
The U.S. attorney for the southern half of Ohio described the alleged crimes committed on duty as “a nightmarish breach of trust.”
“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.
In the aftermath of her improper arrest, Daniels filed a federal defamation lawsuit alleging that the officers in question conspired to retaliate against her due to her extramarital affair with Donald Trump prior to his presidency.