- What if I get a traffic ticket?
- Georgia law considers a traffic citation (ticket) as an arrest for a traffic infraction, even though you weren't taken into custody. To properly dispose of it, you have two options:
First, you may post a cash bond with Recorder's Court and not appear in court to contest the citation. This will be considered a guilty plea. The bond must be posted at least one hour prior to your scheduled court time. When you do not appear in court, your bond will be forfeited. The money at that time will be considered a fine and your driving history will reflect a conviction for the offense(s) with which you were charged. The officer who issued you the citation is not allowed to quote a bond amount to you. You must call Recorder's Court at 653-4256. Bonds may be mailed to the Court but they should be sent early enough to arrive prior to the court date. Only money orders are accepted. Do not send cash or checks. The mailing address is Recorder's Court, 702 10th St., Columbus, GA 31901.
Second, you may appear in court to contest the citation. You must be in court on the date and time listed on the citation or the Court may issue a Contempt of Court warrant for failure to appear. This could result in simply setting another court date or being arrested. This will be done at the discretion of the court not the officer. If you feel the citation was wrong, you must appear in Recorder's Court to contest it. Once the citation is issued, the officer is not allowed to revoke it. Only Recorder's Court is allowed to dispose of it.
In Recorder's Court, your name will be called and both you and the officer will be allowed to approach the bench and tell the judge "your side of the story." You should bring any evidence or witnesses with you at that time. If you feel you need an attorney, he or she should be contacted prior to the court date so his/her schedule can be adjusted in order to appear with you.
A police officer is not allowed to advise you on how you should handle your case in court. If you need assistance, contact an attorney.
Georgia Law allows a person who is charged with a traffic offense to reduce his/her fine, by up to 20%, by taking a driver improvement course, provided the course is completed prior to the Court appearance. In addition, no points would be assessed on the license. A person may only use this provision of the law once every five years. Officers are given specific days to assign cases to Court. Should your Court date not allow you to complete the driver improvement course, you must get a time extension from the Recorder's Court.
- How do I rate the Columbus Police Department?
- The Columbus Police Department has created an opinion survey, to better judge the communities overall view of the department. To print a copy of the Columbus Police Department's Job Performance Survey click here. After completing the survey, mail it to the following address:
Columbus Police Department
Community Relations Unit
510 10th Street
Columbus, Georgia 31902-1866
- How do I make a complaint against an officer?
It is the policy of the Columbus Police Department to foster confidence from the citizens of Columbus and maintain high professional standards. Our Department investigates all complaints against both sworn and civilian employees. Any investigation or hearing arising from a complaint will be fairly conducted with truth as the primary objective.
A complaint against an officer should be registered with any supervisor in the Department. A supervisor is any employee with the rank of sergeant or above or any civilian specifically designated as a supervisor. Any supervisor receiving a complaint is required to notify his/her supervisor of the facts so that appropriate action may be taken. When an employee who is not a supervisor receives a complaint, that employee is required to immediately notify a supervisor.
The specifics of the complaint are then determined. If the complaint is such that the supervisor is unable to investigate, or if assistance is needed, he or she will forward the complaint through the chain of command to the Chief of Police with a request for assistance. The complaint will then be reviewed and may be assigned to the Office of Professional Standards for further investigation. These are normally completed with 30 days. < Complaint Form in PDF Format >
The following acts or omissions may result in discipline of the employee: commission of a criminal offense, neglect of duty, any conduct which may reflect unfavorably upon the employees of the Department and any violation of Department orders, policies or procedures.
After the complaint has been thoroughly investigated, the file will be submitted to the Chief of Police for review. All investigations of Departmental employees accused of misconduct will conclude with one of the following:
SUSTAINED - The investigation's findings reveal sufficient evidence to prove the allegations.
NOT SUSTAINED - The investigation's findings reveal insufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove the complaint.
EXONERATED - The investigation's findings reveal the acts did occur but were justified, lawful and proper.
UNFOUNDED - The investigation's findings reveal that the acts in the complaint did not occur or did not involve Departmental employees
POLICY FAILURE - The investigation revealed the acts in the complaint did occur but were based on existing policy. Responsibility for the acts resides within Departmental policy and not the employee.
ADMINISTRATIVE INVESTIGATION - The complainant failed to cooperate with the investigation and there is insufficient evidence to draw a conclusion and apply a finding.
The complainant will be advised of the outcome of the investigation. Any discipline as a result of a complaint may include the following: counseling, oral reprimand, remedial training, written reprimand, disciplinary probation, suspension without pay, demotion or dismissal. Disciplinary actions are personnel matters and are not normally publicly disclosed.
- What kind of weapons do Columbus Police Officers carry?
The most visible weapon is the firearm. Officers are issued a Smith & Wesson model M&P, 9mm, semi-automatic pistol. Patrol officers also use a special holster designed to protect him or her by making it almost impossible for anyone but the officer to remove the weapon.
Officers also have available the ASP collapsible batons. These replace the nightstick or "billy club" that police used to carry. When being carried, it is approximately 8 inches long. When necessary, it can be expanded to approximately 18" to be used as defensive protection for the officer.
Officers also carry "OC spray", also known as "pepper spray." This is a special formulation of derivatives of the pepper plant known as oleo capsicum. It is a disabling weapon used for combatant individuals. OC spray is painful but not actually harmful to an individual.
Some officers also carry a hand weapon known as a "Taser." This device shoots electrodes at a disruptive subject and the ensuing electrical impulses disrupt superficial muscle functions causing most individuals to become compliant.
Depending on the type or severity of a situation, other weapons may be available to the patrol officer or to other specially trained officers but are not normally carried by all police officers. These weapons include shotguns, "pepper ball" guns, "bean bag" guns and others.
All officers are required to qualify annually with each weapon they are allowed to use, i.e., they must show proficiency with each of the weapons to be allowed to use it.
- What is required to become a Columbus Police Officer?
- Click here to see requirements
- How can I get a copy of a vehicle accident or incident report?
- Reports are generally filed by the patrol officers at the end of their shift, so reports are usually available within approximately 48 hours of the report being taken. The Georgia Open Records Act limits access to motor vehicle accident reports to those people involved in the accident and their insurers. They are not available for public inspection.
For your convenience, obtaining a copy of your crash report is easier than ever. Simply go to www.BuyCrash.com and enter the information on the card given to you by the officer at the scene. You'll be able to view, download, and print your report for a fee of $11.00; or
If you are in the area of the Columbus Police Department, located at 510 10th Street, you can pick up a copy of the report. You should appear in person with enough identifying information about the incident (names, date, etc.) for the officer to locate the report.
Go to www.buycrash.com »
- What information or support is available to victims?
Someone committed a crime against me, what do I do? Get to a safe place and call 911. Once the police are called, give them your location and wait, and then make a report with as many details as possible. In some circumstances, you can call our report writing office at 706-653-3208 or 706-653-3215 to make a police report over the phone. A police officer will complete a report over the phone, or they will refer you to call 911 in order to have an officer respond to your location.
What is the best source of information for victims after a report is filed? The Victim-Witness Office is your best resource and can be reached at (706) 653-4426 and VictimWitness@ColumbusGA.org. They can walk you through everything on this FAQ page and much more.
I'm a victim - what are my rights? The State of Georgia has defined the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights to ensure victims are treated fairly, informed, can participate if desired, and more. Financial assistance and Restitution are also covered further down in this document. The full set of rights are located on the Georgia Victims Bill of Rights website.
The accused has been arrested, is (s)he still in jail? There are three ways to know the inmate's status.
I. Online: To search for an inmate using the Sheriff's website, you must know their first and last name.
II. Jail: Inmates that committed crimes in Muscogee County are generally held in the Muscogee County Jail, call (706) 653-4258.
III. Victim-Witness Office: Please call or email us at VictimWitness@ColumbusGA.org.
IV. If you are a victim of domestic violence, the Muscogee County Sheriff's Department must attempt to contact the victim before releasing the defendant from their facility.
What will happen next? Typically, within 72 hours of the arrest, the defendant will have their "First Appearance" at the Preliminary Hearing. The Preliminary Hearing is also known as the Probable Cause Hearing because a judge must find "probable cause" for the arrest. Please note that "probable cause" does not mean they have been found guilty, but only that there is enough information to proceed to the next step. As the victim, you may receive a summons for the Preliminary Hearing that is held in Recorder's Court (702 E 10th Street Columbus, GA 31901). However, you should be aware that, even if you receive the summons, the defendant may not have a hearing if they post bond or invoke their right to waive the hearing.
What happens after the Preliminary Hearing? For traffic offenses and misdemeanors, the accused will be prosecuted in state court by the Muscogee County Solicitor General. For felonies and violent crimes, the accused will be prosecuted in Superior Court by the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit's District Attorney's Office. If you haven't been contacted yet, it is strongly recommended that you contact the Victim-Witness Office (706-653-4426).
Is there financial assistance available for the victim? The Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program helps victims of violent crimes with expenses like medical, counseling, lost wages, funeral expenses and crime scene clean up. You may also be entitled to "Restitution", which is a monetary amount for victims', paid by the defendant during their probation period, to assist in making a victim "whole". Reach out to a Compensation Specialist at the Victim Advocacy Office at (706) 653-4426 or VictimWitness@ColumbusGA.org, or visit Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program online. Many of the requirements for financial assistance are time-sensitive, so please reach out quickly.
What else can I do to protect myself from the accused? With adequate reasoning, a victim can request a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) through the Clerk of Superior Court.