Ohio governor proposes psychological exam for potential officers, ban on police chokeholds

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody and the following protests showed us the deep divisions across our country.

While he’s heard many viewpoints recently, he said they are truly not far apart. He said people can believe protests are important and needed, and also think violence is counterproductive. He added people can believe most police offices are dedicated public servants, but still think there are individuals who should not be officers.

“The ultimate goal that we all should share is we should improve law enforcement accountability, training and transparency and that way we can build public trust in law enforcement,” DeWine said.

The governor then outlined his proposals for police reform. He said many are policies already sought by the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.

DeWine is asking the Ohio General Assembly for the following:

  • Require potential officers to pass a psychological exam to make sure they are mentally fit to be a police officer before entering the academy.
  • Ban chokeholds across the state, unless it’s determined the officer was justified in using deadly force.
  • Create a standard use-of-force definition and mandate all agencies report the information to the Office of Criminal Justice Services.
  • Find permanent funding streams for yearly law enforcement training.
  • Mandate independent investigations and independent prosecutors for all officer-involved shootings and all in-custody deaths. Ohio State Highway Patrol cases will be handled by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
  • Create a law enforcement oversight and accountability board, including members of the law enforcement community and the public.
  • Examine what help the state can provide to local agencies on the cost of body cameras.

“There is currently no mechanism in Ohio to revoke a certificate for conduct that is egregious, but not criminal. Now is the time to begin treating peace officer certifications more like professional licenses,” DeWine said.

He wants the law enforcement accountability board, which would be under the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission, to establish standards and a code of conduct. The board would have the authority to suspend or revoke a license, under DeWine’s proposal. Those within the law enforcement who fail to report violations by other officers could face penalties. It would make the peace officer certificate operate more like the licenses for doctors and attorneys.

DeWine also directed the Ohio Officer of Criminal Justice to fund six hours of deescalation training, use-of-force training and implicit bias training in 2020 for any Ohio officer who has not already received it this year. He said he’s never met a law enforcement officer who did not want more training, and no matter where a resident lives they deserve an officer with the correct advanced training.

Last week, DeWine told the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board to begin developing a new minimum standard on law enforcement’s response to mass protests, 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, and 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 those are changes he could quickly make without the state legislature.

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