COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is asking the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board to develop minimum standards for police pursuits in Ohio.
Currently, every agency in Ohio is required by law to have a policy, but the content of that policy is left to the agency to define.
This has created vast differences between jurisdictions up to and including a “no pursuits” policy.
Any recommendations the board eventually comes up with would be voluntary.
Not every law enforcement agency participates in the board’s standards program.
Previous policy standards the board has developed include:
— Use of force including deadly force
— Employee recruitment and hiring
— Community engagement
— Body-worn cameras
— Law enforcement telecommunicator training
— Bias-free policing
— Investigation of Employee Misconduct
“These are life and death decisions and it’s time Ohio had a statewide standard,” DeWine said. “If a police department does not follow those recommendations, it seems to me that they are asking for lawsuits and other kinds of problems.”
About half of the nearly 1,000 law enforcement agencies in the state will soon be certified through a program established by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board.
The board was created several years ago by Governor John Kasich, whose executive order set the agenda of standardizing the first two policies he wanted law enforcement agencies to all be on the same page with — use of force including deadly force and employee recruitment and hiring.
Since then, the board has developed five other standards, one of which Kasich asked for specifically — law enforcement telecommunicator training.
Now, DeWine has added to that list of requests by asking for a standard to be developed for police pursuits.
The agencies participating in the accreditation program for these standards through the board are doing so voluntarily.
Inside that voluntary group, five of the seven standards are optional, only the use of force and employee recruitment are mandatory to be part of the collaborative.
The police pursuit standards will also be optional.
This is one of the biggest criticisms against the board, according to member and police chief of Oregon, Ohio, Michael Navarre.
“If you’re going to have a policy that you want consistent across the state of Ohio, it needs to be mandated. It can’t be a standard that this collaborative puts forth because these collaboratives are compliance is voluntary,” Navarre said.
Navarre agrees with the governor that policies for pursuits need to be standardized in some way.
“Back in 1977, I worked a very busy district. There were a lot of cars that were stolen, there was a lot of crime that was committed and we did a lot of chasing of cars and it was exciting,” Navarre said. “We loved going after the bad guy, we loved catching the bad guy.”
As he aged and his duties shifted into management, his view of all of that changed.
“We realized that these pursuits are scary, a lot of bad things can happen as a result of a pursuit,” Navarre said. “The truth of the matter is the statistics are out there — 1% of all pursuits end in fatality, and often times the person killed is an innocent person that had nothing to do with the chase that was occurring.”
Navarre said that coming up with one standard that all 88 counties in Ohio are going to agree with will take a Herculean effort and likely not be possible.
With each pursuit, a plethora of variables come into play.
Ultimately, Navarre said accountability will be the key, accountability for those making that call for when or if to pursue and when or if to call one off.
DeWine understands this clearly and admits this is no easy task but feels it is one that must be done for Ohioans.
“I think this will save lives, in fact, I know it will save lives and I hope it will be implemented. Whatever they come back with, I hope it will be implemented by every police department in the state,” DeWine said.
Lawmakers who are part of the board intimated they will be pursuing stiffer penalties for those who run from police as well.
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