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State Task Force On Police Holds First Meeting

A state task force on police-community relations held its first meeting last night in Cleveland. 

The group includes lawmakers, pastors and police. Nick Castele of member station WCPN in Cleveland reports.

Out of an audience of dozens, about 20 people testified – some shared stories about treatment by police.

Others recommended collecting data on racial profiling in Ohio, training officers to respond to people with mental illness, and setting up an independent panel to review police shootings. Many speakers urged the task force to consider race in its final proposals.

Akron Police Sgt. Brian Armstead, a task force member, asked the audience to support putting enough money toward making these proposals happen.

ARMSTEAD: “One of the common denominators that I heard from the recommendations seemed to be training, knowledge. Let’s make our police officers better equipped. I’m sure the community is going to hold our feed to the fire on that. All of those things are going to require funding.”

State Rep. Alicia Reece is a task force member and heads the legislative black caucus. The Cincinnati Democrat says action could take several paths.

REECE: Could be a bill and executive orders. Could be something the attorney general could get done right now. Could be something the governor could implement right now. Could be something the General Assembly could see passing.

The group also heard from U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach, who outlined the Justice Department’s findings that Cleveland police too often used excessive force.

The task force is slated to deliver a report to the governor by the end of April.

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