DeWine Delivers Update on Law Enforcement Reform in Ohio
COLUMBUS (News Talk 1480 WHBC) – Rather than discussing the latest on COVID-19 in Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine, along with other state leaders, spent the afternoon providing updates on Law Enforcement Reform in the Buckeye State. Here is a complete outline on everything that was discussed.
Recruiting New Officers
Last week, Governor DeWine announced the creation of a new office of law enforcement recruitment to help improve the representation of minorities and women in law enforcement agencies.
“This new office will develop and share best practices on the hiring of candidates who are best suited for this great career,” DeWine said.
This afternoon DeWine announced that Dr. Patrick Oliver, who currently serves as the director of the Criminal Justice Program at Cedarville University, has agreed to serve as the lead consultant of this office.
Oliver’s resume includes 27 years of service as a law enforcement officer, including 11 years with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. He has also served as Police chief in numerous cities throughout the state.
Basic Training/ Psychological Exams
Governor DeWine is asking the Ohio General Assembly to require that those who apply to take law enforcement basic training must first pass a psychological exam showing they are fit for this career.
“We must add this condition to Ohio’s basic training now to help us prevent tragedies in the future,” said DeWine. “Ohio must make sure that only those with the right psychological makeup are admitted into an academy and eventually issued a peace officer certificate.”
The Governor also plans to require law enforcement officers to have at least a high school degree of G.E.D, something that is currently not the case.
DeWine has directed Ohio Criminal Justice Services to fund six total hours of de-escalation training, use-of-force training, and implicit bias training in 2020 for any Ohio officer who has not yet received training on these critical topics this year.
The Governor says Ohio must do more to ensure that all its officers have the knowledge and skills to properly protect the public.
“I’ve never met a law enforcement officer who didn’t want more training,” said DeWine. “They understand how important training is.”
DeWine asked the Ohio General Assembly to start a discussion with him, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and the public to identify a permanent funding stream for law enforcement training so that Ohio can mandate specific annual training every year, for every officer.
Use-of-Force Data Transparency
To improve transparency in Ohio, DeWine is asking the Ohio General Assembly to create a standard use-of-force definition and mandate that all agencies in the state report information on these incidents to Ohio Criminal Justice Services. The Governor says this information should be available to the public.
“Public data related to use-of-force will not only provide transparency for Ohio citizens, but it will also improve our understanding of why these incidents happen,” said DeWine. “So that we can proactively work to prevent them in the future.”
The Governor is asking the legislature to ban chokeholds for officers in Ohio unless the officer is justified in using deadly force in situations where an officer is fighting for his or her own life or protecting the life of another.
Independent Investigations and Prosecutions
DeWine called about the Ohio General Assembly to mandate independent investigations and prosecutions for all officer-involved shootings and all in-custody deaths.
“It’s time that this process becomes automatic and mandatory for every law enforcement agency in Ohio,” said DeWine. “Be it assistance from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office or another qualified, neutral agency – outside investigators and prosecutors should always be involved in these incidents.”
The Governor spoke about how the Ohio State Highway Patrol has traditionally investigated their use-of-force incidents themselves. He addressed how this too, must change.
“I am announcing today that I have directed them to refer all officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths that our troopers are involved with to be investigated by BCI,” said DeWine.
DeWine says the state’s goal should be to ensure that every officer in Ohio has a body camera. The Governor is directing the Ohio State Highway Patrol to begin outfitting our troopers in Ohio with body cameras. He is also asking the legislature to examine what help the state can provide to other local agencies in regard to body camera costs.
Governor DeWine is asking the General Assembly to create a law enforcement oversight and accountability board, including members of the law enforcement community, and also members of the public.
There is currently no mechanism in Ohio to revoke a certificate for conduct that is egregious, but not criminal. DeWine says now is the time to begin treating peace officer certificates more like professional licenses.
Funding and Implementation
DeWine says part of the process of putting these practices into motion is finding ways or sources to fund them. While some parts of the new plan will require a large amount of financing, the Governor pointed out that some steps are as simple as a change in action.
“This is a process,” said DeWine. “This is not just go do something and move on. This is a process and we must all commit to staying with that process, for many many months, and many many years ahead.”
Overall, DeWine emphasized that regardless of cost, these are these are all things that simply must be done.