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Kasich Calls For Task Force On Police, Community Relations

High-profile shootings involving law enforcement and young black men are a serious concern, according to Ohio’s governor. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports -- leaders from both sides of the aisle are joining forces to take action before the unrest reaches a tipping point.

 Last month a police officer opened fire on Tamir Rice—a 12-year-old boy holding a BB gun in a Cleveland park. 

Three months earlier—John Crawford was shot and killed by police in a Dayton-area Walmart. Officers say Crawford didn’t obey orders to put down an air rifle. 

The deaths of Rice and Crawford—both black—have been added to the dialogue of unrest and concerns over the relationship between law enforcement and the African American community. 

Given the outrage seen through protests in places like Ferguson, Missouri and New York City—Gov. John Kasich believes state leaders must step in. 

Kasich: “I don’t know what you know about a pressure cooker. But when steam doesn’t be released from a pressure cooker—it explodes.” 

The governor says a newly created task force will listen to communities, research best practices and eventually issue recommendations on building a better dynamic between police and communities. 

There are people who believe young black men are being unfairly targeted by police. Kasich says those are concerns that must be addressed. 

Kasich: “It doesn’t matter what it is. If there are people that feel they’re being shut out you have to listen to them—you can’t just say well you’ve got a problem go fix it yourself.” 

Democratic Senator Nina Turner of Cleveland was asked to help as a prominent black leader in Ohio. And Kasich says Turner provides a unique perspective because her son is a police officer. Turner says it is important for the state to be proactive in this issue. 

Turner: “No group of people should have the burden of skin and that is what’s going on in this country—in this state—and in this country—but we’ve got to deal with that collectively. This is not about pointing fingers at anybody because as I said earlier the police need the community and the community need the police.” 

Jay McDonald—president of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police—applauds Kasich and Turner for the creation of this task force. He was asked—in the recent political and media climate—if he believed police are being unfairly targeted. 

McDonald: “It’s tough right now to be a law enforcement officer—there’s a rush to judgment sometimes about things where people see snippets or hear snippets of information—our position is—let’s wait and see what the facts are—let’s wait to see what the facts are and once we have the facts let’s make a judgment let’s not rush.” 

Along with the task force—Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that he was calling on a meeting of the Peace Officer Training Commission. He wants the group to reexamine the basic training curriculum. DeWine hopes this could determine if there are better ways of training officers in the event they must use force. 

And Kasich has this response to people in the white community who don’t understand why these steps are being taken. 

Kasich: “You’re not in their shoes! You’re not in their community. America’s become so polarized between rich and poor and Republicans and Democrats and black and white this is not an America or even a state of Ohio that we can just sit back and ignore we gotta bring people together that’s what gives opportunity and hope to people.” 

Kasich says there’s no timeline for when this new listening tour will begin. 

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