Ohio Gov. DeWine, AG Yost announce new police reform efforts

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Governor Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost held a briefing Wednesday afternoon to discuss efforts to create meaningful change to law enforcement in the state.

The announcement comes after widespread demonstrations demanding change, and protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Governor DeWine said he has heard from many people and the views are not far apart and not inconsistent. He says one can believe that most officers are dedicated public servants and also believe that there are some officers who should not be police officers.

The governor said we have to acknowledge that some officers just should not be police officers and those who show a bias should not have a badge.

Governor DeWine says he is here to talk about legislative action. He says they’ve talked to many members and he looks forward to working with all members of the General Assembly. He says he spoke with the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Wednesday and many of the things he will talk about have been outlined in their plan.

He is asking the legislature to pass a bill requiring law enforcement officers to pass a psychological exam showing they are fit for the career.

DeWine also says the state will provide six additional hours of deescalation training this year. This includes helping officers understand those with mental health issues, use of force and complicit bias training.

Governor DeWine says not all agencies provide additional training because their municipalities don’t/can’t pay for it, because of that officers can go years with no additional training. He calls this “unacceptable.”

The governor is asking the legislature to find a permanent funding stream to provide this training to officers each year.

A third item proposed by Governor DeWine is a statewide definition of ‘use of force’ and mandated reporting of those incidents. He says we don’t often know how often force is used in Ohio and whether it is excessive or justified.

He says the data will not only provide transparency for all Ohioans, but help provide understanding of why these incidents happen.

DeWine is asking the legislature to ban chokeholds across the state of Ohio, unless an officer is justified in using deadly force in situations where an officer is justified in fighting for his or her own life, or protecting the life of another.

The governor is calling for independent prosecution of all officer-involved shootings and custody deaths. The Ohio Attorney General’s office will investigate shootings involving the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Governor DeWine asking the General Assembly to create a licensing board with law enforcement members and people in the community. DeWine hopes this will end officers being fired, keep their certificate and be hired somewhere else. He wants to treat peace officer certificates more like professional licenses, subject to professional standards and a code of conduct.

The board would have the ability to revoke license of an officer if necessary, much like a doctor or lawyer.

Attorney General Yost says the problems we are seeing are not a law enforcement problem, they are societal problems with a law enforcement dimension.

Yost addressed police officers in the state. He said the bad cops make them less safe on the street. He says they are why they are bring painted with a broad brush. He wants to help get this legislation passed so they can get ride of those bad cops.

Leaders around the country, and locally have been calling for cultural competency training, more engagement with minority communities, and creating positions for social workers to respond to certain calls instead of officers.

State lawmakers have introduced proposals and written the governor about police using tear gas and pepper spray on protesters.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther says he recently had a productive conversation with the Attorney General. Mayor Ginther recently issued an executive order to turn over any fatal use of force incidents or deaths in police custody to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Yost’s office.

Yost announced Wednesday efforts to solicit feedback on what meaningful changes could be implemented.

In a Facebook group called, “Be Heard By The AG,” he asks for comments, experiences and suggestions and has been closely monitoring Ohioans’ ideas for law enforcement reforms.

“We are listening deeply and thinking about what we are hearing,” Yost said. “For those who would rather not wade through the hate that Facebook sometimes unleashes, we created a summary page so you can see what your fellow citizens are saying.”

Ohioans may also submit feedback via email to BeHeardByTheAG@ohioago.gov.

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