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Community Safety, Security & Effective Justice

The county’s new correctional facility will be open later this year.

Franklin County Adds New Facilities Amid 2020’s Pandemic

Franklin County welcomed a new state-of-the-art forensic science center in 2020 when the coroner’s staff moved into the new facility at 2090 Frank Road. The center tripled the amount of space from their previous location at 520 King Ave. on The Ohio State University campus. In this challenging year as we all faced the difficulties of COVID-19, the coroner’s team has also had to cope with a significant rise in opioid-related overdose deaths.

The coroner’s office also added new tools including the addition of designated counseling space, space for eight autopsies to be performed at once, an expanded toxicology lab, two new imaging systems - a CT machine and Lodox, and other amenities. The building includes electric vehicle plug-in spots and solar-ready rooftops and is projected to receive a LEED-Silver energy rating.

The county also moved closer to finishing and opening a new corrections center this year, on the west side of Franklin County. The county’s two existing jail facilities are quite aged, and the new jail will provide a host of improvements from its size, amenities, and philosophies in inmate management. Detainees here will have the ability and tools to concentrate on self-improvement, while receiving treatment for mental health and addiction. These changes and many others are hoped to help reduce recidivism and make our community safer.

Forensic Science Center

Open Date: May 2020
Size: 56,654 square feet
Budget: $37 Million

James A. Karnes Corrections Center

Opening Date: Late 2021
Size: 430,000 square feet
Budget: $360 Million

Forensic Science Center by the Numbers*


Unexpected Deaths Reported to the
Coroner in 2020

Reported deaths   

Increase from 2019

Death scenes staffed by forensic investigators

Death scenes

Increase from 2019

Autopsies and Examinations

Full autopsies performed

External examinations

Increase from 2019

Overdose Deaths

Overdose deaths between Jan. 1 – Sept. 30, 2020

Increase in deaths for the same time period of 2019

*All comparisons are from 2020 unless otherwise noted.

Ensuring Care for Residents During the Pandemic

Perhaps one of the most visible commissioner projects in 2020 was the managing of a special overflow center for COVID-19.

The Board of Commissioners and Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security spearheaded many of the preparations to convert the Columbus Convention Center into a 1,000-bed overflow facility to be used in case area hospitals became overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. The county offices partnered with OhioHealth, Mount Carmel Medical Systems, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for preparations, including medical equipment, generators, beds and other necessities so that the convention center could be activated as a hospital if the need arose. Thankfully, it hasn’t needed to be utilized, but the commissioners stand ready to ensure that all of their residents are able to get the care they require should the need ever arise in the future.

Commissioner O’Grady tours the overflow hospital facility at the Greater Columbus Convention Center with leadership from the region’s hospital systems.

COVID-19 in Franklin County


In 2020


In 2020

Emergency Management and Homeland Security

The office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security made significant improvements in 2020 while handling many historic demands. Franklin County became the first county in the nation to be granted “super-user” status by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security allowing local agencies to receive information & intelligence from the federal agency 24 hours a day.

The Emergency Management team also managed the county’s emergency operations center for COVID-19. This center, which was activated on March 12, 2020, facilitated more than 100 briefings with partner agencies and provided a host of other services for the collective response to the pandemic.

The agency also assisted with help acquiring and distributing millions of pieces of personal protective equipment including:


1.5 million
pieces for residents, nonprofits and governmental agencies.

2.6 million 
masks to schools around
Central Ohio were distributed assisting the Educational
Service Center of Central Ohio.

citizen aid kits, which could be used in mass trauma events where public help is needed

Emergency Management staff collected and distributed millions of pieces of protective equipment.

Justice Policy and Programs

The Office of Justice Policy and Programs helps many Franklin County residents in great need and added two significant programs in 2020. First, the agency merged with the nonprofit, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Franklin County (CASA) which provides volunteer guardian ad litem services to abused or neglected children in Domestic and Juvenile Court. CASA assisted 767 children and trained 62 new volunteers in 2020.

The office also offered new hope through the Pathways program for repeat offenders at considerable risk of overdose and death due to opioid use, mental health issues, or who may have unstable housing upon release.

The program, previously available to women, was also offered to men in 2020. Together the programs helped a total of 95 people last year by linking them to much needed services which will help them become independent. The program not only helps reduce recidivism, it also saves hundreds of thousands of dollars in jail costs.


Justice Policy and Programs Assists Thousands of Residents Each Year

People with mental health or addiction disorders were assisted with long-term housing options in order to reduce recidivis

Narcan kits were distributed to at-risk individuals released from jail.

Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes were assisted.

pathways art program

Justice Policy staff took began offering their services online this year.

Animal Care and Control

The Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center paired a record number of families with fur-ever friends last year which were especially important during the pandemic. Families sought new pets in record numbers as they sheltered in place for much of the year.

Franklin County residents also showed their continued generosity by keeping the Community Pet Food Pantry filled throughout 2020. The pantry not only offers food, but toys, blankets and more. Needy families accessed the pantry 1,179 times for 2,372 bags of food.

Dogs impounded

Live release rate


Volunteer Hours

Dogs adopted

Reunited with family

Transfered to rescue

Animal Care and Control is both a dog shelter and a law enforcement agency for laws pertaining to dogs

Franklin County Emergency Communications Radio System Expansion

Emergency Management and Homeland Security owns and operates the digital radio system used by first responders across the county, but it hadn’t been updated since 2013. Last year, EMA was able to secure a grant from the state of Ohio to upgrade the system by adding more channel capacity and signal strength. Franklin County’s radio system is being transferred onto the state’s which will eliminate radio system redundancy and is projected to provide long-term savings. The transition is expected to be completed in July 2021.