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Gov. DeWine Previews Police Accountability Bill Heading To General Assembly

Apr 21, 2021

New legislation on police oversight and accountability is expected to be introduced in the General Assembly in the next few days.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine began Wednesday's coronavirus press conference by acknowledging the tragic death of a 16-year old girl shot by a Columbus police officer Tuesday. While he urged people to remain calm while the Bureau of Criminal Investigation review unfolds, he also took the opportunity to talk about the need for police reform.

DeWine say legislation on police training and accountability will be introduced by State Representative Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) in the next few days. A key provision is the creation of a statewide Peace Officer Oversight board.

"In other professions - your doctor, your nurse, your lawyer - there's a state board that has the ability to pull a license, to suspend a license. It's time we do that in the area of law enforcement. Again, it is a profession. We should treat it as such."

The legislation will also improve transparency by collecting data. It formalizes the currently voluntary use-of-force database. And it will create an officer discipline database that will compile data from over 900 law enforcement agencies.

"The situation we have now, someone can go from one police department to another. And if they left under bad terms, and that officer doesn't even report that he worked at the other - the one law enforcement agency may not have any idea."

In 2013 Timothy Loehmann joined the Cleveland Police Department without disclosing he had been deemed "emotionally unstable" and dismissed from the Independence Ohio police department as "unfit for duty" less than a year earlier. In 2014 Loehman shot and killed 12-year old Tamir Rice outside a Cleveland rec center.

Perhaps most importantly, DeWine says the legislation would develop a secure, independent source of funding for officer training, standardizing on-going professional training in areas like implicit bias, de-escalation and use of force across all agencies.

Last June DeWine ordered a review of use of force policy among all cabinet-level departments, and used executive order to ban the use of choke holds. He also ordered the Ohio Highway Patrol to phase-in mandatory body cameras, which he says they are currently doing.