COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a series of changes to law enforcement across the state during his coronavirus news conference on Tuesday. This follows weeks of nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.
DeWine encouraged the more than 400 law enforcement agencies in Ohio to become certified in the state’s use-of-force, and hiring and recruitment standards. He said 79 percent of Ohio’s officers work for an agency that is certified or in the process of being certified. About half of the state’s departments are certified.
The state’s certification includes standards on use of force, community engagement, body-worn cameras and pursuits.
The governor said he directed the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board to begin developing a new minimum standard on law enforcement’s response to mass protests. The protocols will include when to use tear gas and pepper spray, how to prevent members of the media from being injured and when tactics become excessive. He said he wants peaceful demonstrators to feel safe, and for the public to be protected against violence and destruction.
DeWine also announced he will create the Ohio Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment within the Ohio Department of Criminal Justice Services to help recruit more minorities and women in law enforcement. DeWine said law enforcement should reflect the community they serve.
According to DeWine, these are changes he can make quickly without legislation. He said he is working with the legislature, the law enforcement community, elected officials and community organizations.
“This is not the end, this is just the beginning of our focus on this. I intend to stand here in the near future detailing even more changes,” DeWine said.
When asked about the recent call in some communities to defund the police, DeWine called it “absurd.”