COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine outlined new criminal justice and public safety initiatives proposed in his Executive Budget.
The initiatives focus on improving community-police relations, reducing gun crimes and drug trafficking and protecting Ohio’s schools and students, according to DeWine.
Among the proposals is an emphasis on providing drug-addiction treatment and targeting drug cartels.
DeWine also discussed a program to provide funds to small police departments that may be extraditing violent criminals who have been picked up on warrants.
DeWine also spoke of his support of law enforcement’s use of body cameras, but he said the cost has hampered an increase in their use at various departments. DeWine estimated that only 183 police departments have body cameras that meet the state’s standards.
“The cameras themselves aren’t cheap. The cost to store hours and hours of video is expensive, and even the process of responding to public-records requests is extremely labor extensive,” he said. “Our budget proposal creates a $10 million grant fund to help local law enforcement agencies get more body cameras on more officers.”
If approved by the General Assembly, the Body-Worn Camera Grant Program would prioritize funding for agencies that do not have a body-camera program. Agencies with established programs would also be eligible.
The grants would be flexible to meet agencies’ individual needs and could be used toward expenses such as camera equipment, video storage and public record management personnel. Funding would be contingent on adherence to the Ohio Community-Police Collaborative’s body-worn camera standard.
DeWine also spoke of providing funding for the recruitment of qualified police officers and on funding for safer schools by finding ways to stop threats and violence.
Governor DeWine’s Executive Budget proposal invests $4.6 million over the biennium into the Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC) which was created in 2019 with existing resources within the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
“Our school safety team has done great work over the past year, but with limited resources, they’re only scratching at the surface of what they could do,” said Governor DeWine. “Nothing is more important than the safety of our children, and by expanding the work of the Ohio School Safety Center, we can provide more localized, immediate support to schools, as well as expand the training, research, and intelligence-gathering services the center provides.”