COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced new efforts in Ohio for meaningful law enforcement reform.
“Many law enforcement agencies in Ohio have worked hard to improve community-police relations and enhance public trust, and we should acknowledge these efforts. But we must also acknowledge that there are some officers in Ohio who have no place being in a position of trust,” DeWine said.
He is asking the Ohio General Assembly to require those who apply to take law enforcement basic training to first pass a psychological exam.
“We must add this condition to Ohio’s basic training now to help us prevent tragedies in the future. Ohio must make sure that only those with the right psychological makeup are admitted into an academy and eventually issued a peace officer certificate,” DeWine said.
He has directed the Office of Criminal Justice Services to fund six total hours of de-escalation training, use-of-force training, and implicit bias training in 2020.
“Ohio must do more to ensure that all our 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. They understand how important training is,” DeWine said.
To improve transparency in the state, the governor is asking the General Assembly to create a standard use-of-force definition and mandate that all agencies in Ohio report information on those incidents to the Office of Criminal Justice Services which should also be made 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 - so that we can proactively work to prevent them in the future,” he said.
DeWine said he is also asking the legislature to ban chokeholds for officers in the state “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.”
He’s asking to mandate independent investigations and prosecutions for all officer-involved shootings and all in-custody deaths.
“The Ohio State Highway Patrol has traditionally investigated their use-of-force incidents themselves. 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,” DeWine said.
The governor says his goal is to ensure that every officer in Ohio, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol, has a body camera.
“I am also asking the legislature to examine what help the state can provide to other local agencies in regard to body camera costs,” he said.
DeWine wants a law enforcement oversight and accountability board to be created that would include members of the law enforcement community and members of the public.
“The board would then be responsible for ensuring that Ohio’s law enforcement officials adhere to this professional code of conduct, and if not, they would have the authority to suspend and revoke a peace officer’s license when necessary,” he said.
According to DeWine, there is currently no mechanism to revoke a certificate for conduct that is egregious, but not criminal.
He says it’s now the time to begin treating peace officer certificates more like professional licenses.
This announcement comes after weeks of unrest and protests that rocked Cincinnati and Columbus, and several other major U.S. cities.
On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order called the Safe Policing for Safe Communities and it outlines specific areas where police departments can improve.
Chokeholds are now banned unless the officer feels his life is at risk, President Trump stated.
He said there will be no disbanding or dismantling of police departments.