A new bill — which DeWine said is coming from State Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton), who is a former sheriff, and should be introduced in a few days — is reportedly set to “increase accountability and transparency in law enforcement.”
According to DeWine, the bill was developed with help from multiple law enforcement agencies, as well as civil rights activists.
“This bill will establish a peace officer oversight board similar to the state oversight boards in other professions (doctors, nurses, lawyers, etc.) that have the ability to suspend licenses,” DeWine said. “It’s time we do this in law enforcement.”
He said the bill would require independent investigations for any officer-involved shooting or similarly serious incident, as well as establish a central database to report use-of-force incidents.
Ongoing law enforcement training is very important across the state, DeWine said, and the new bill is supposed to address how to secure independent funding for such a thing.
“We need to mandate minimum continuing professional training hours in the area of use of force, de-escalation, and implicit bias,” DeWine said.
When asked if he thought this new bill would be passed successfully, DeWine said there’s no reason it shouldn’t.
“This is something a lot of work when into it,” DeWine said. “These are common sense reforms, these are reforms that police can agree to, they’re reforms that community activists can agree to. Shouldn’t we treat police officers the same way we treat other professionals? Aren’t they that important? … These are reforms that need to be made. If this bill is passed, it will put Ohio at the forefront.”
During the press conference, DeWine also mentioned reforms he implemented last summer via executive action, including banning the use of chokeholds for cabinet agencies with officers and securing funding for body cameras for Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers, which he says have already started being purchased. He said that uniformed policies have also been established across the state for how to deal with mass protests.
DeWine went on to mention his budget initiatives that are currently in front of Ohio’s general assembly, which sets aside $10 million local law enforcement to get body cameras, as well as $1 million for hiring women and minority officers.
Today’s policy discussion also came in the wake of an officer-involved shooting in Columbus yesterday, in which a 16-year-old girl was killed. DeWine did not first address the shooting during the press conference, but was asked about the incident later by reporters.
“You cannot get over the fact that you have a teenager who is dead,” he said. “That is a horrible, horrible tragedy.”