DeWine discusses state police reform with Cincinnati City Council’s Law & Public Safety Committee

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine outlined several proposed statewide police reforms Tuesday with Cincinnati City Council’s Law & Public Safety Committee.

Last year, DeWine’s office announced the development of a statewide minimum standard for deadly force, specifically prohibiting chokeholds, and for police response to mass protests and demonstrations.

DeWine called for the changes after death of George Floyd and protests that followed nationally and in Ohio, including ones in Cincinnati and Columbus.

On Tuesday, the governor outlined reforms that will be included in proposed legislation allowing state lawmakers to study and implement professional police practices in Ohio.

State Reps. Phil Plummer and Cindy Abrams announced last year they would introduce this legislation to improve law enforcement training, expand officer diversity and implement better disciplinary procedures.

Abrams, R-Harrison, is a former Cincinnati police officer, and Plummers, R-Dayton, served as the Montgomery County sheriff for more than 10 years.

The bill will include:

  • Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) investigating all police-involved shooting, including fatal ones. Now, law enforcement agencies across the state can and do investigate their own
  • Improved training
  • Establishing a police officer certificate oversight board
  • Creating an internal complaint oversight committee
  • Standardizing hiring practices
  • Creating a state-wide disciplinary database for police officers noting suspensions that are the result of improper use of force or dishonesty

In other business Tuesday, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac addressed council about CPD attrition numbers.

The Cincinnati Police Department is budgeted for 1,059 sworn officers and has 990, he told City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee last month, Smitherman said.

“There is a shortage and the risk is going below 1,000 officers as it relates to street strength,” the vice mayor said. “That’s when we start having code zeroes. That’s a risk.”

The next recruit class isn’t expected to graduate until March 2022.

“We really need to have two recruit classes this year,” Smitherman said. “That’s the reality. I don’t know if the rest of council will respond to it or not. We are just keeping up with attrition. We are losing a lot of officers to retirement.”

Cincinnati’s fire and police departments also are now are millions over budget, mostly due to challenges from the coronavirus pandemic, the vice mayor noted.

Both Cincinnati’s fire and police departments have had to cover more overtime recently, partly because of the increase in COVID-19 sick leave, he said.

Staff turnover also is an issue at the fire department. Attrition was nearly 200% higher than expected by the end of November 2020.

City officials project the fire department will need $8 million more than estimated by the end of the fiscal year in June 2021, and CPD will need another $4.9 million.

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