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Ohio's Task Force on Community and Police Relations Issues Report - April 30 Email to Law Enforcement Administrators

4/30/2015

Law Enforcement Administrator,

Last Thursday, I sent you information on the Attorney General's Advisory Group on Law Enforcement Training report.  In an associated effort, Governor Kasich released the report of the recommendations of Ohio’s Task Force on Community and Police Relations and a related executive order, yesterday afternoon.  The press release is at the hyperlink and includes links to both the executive order and full report.

Below, I’ve also copied a summary article which provides a general overview of the report.

Mary E. Davis
Executive Director - Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission/Academy
Office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine
Office number: 740-845-2700
Fax number: 866-578-0009

New Executive Board to Issue Statewide Standards on Use of Deadly Force, Police Hiring

Gov. John Kasich answered the newly released recommendations of his Task Force on Community-Police Relations Wednesday with an executive order creating a new, permanent advisory board that will issue statewide minimum standards for use of force and officer hiring at all law enforcement agencies in Ohio. He said the seven recommendations are the consensus of task force members, average Ohioans and national experts on the steps needed to mend “the fractured relationships that exist between law enforcement and some communities.” He said systemic change will require new state funding to succeed.

The governor gathered with task force members in the Statehouse cabinet room for a press conference marking the release of the 629-page report and the new executive order creating a 12-member Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board to be appointed by Kasich, who could also name an undetermined number of ex officio members.

Flanked by task force co-chairs Director John Born of the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) and former Sen. Nina Turner, the governor said a permanent board of three-year terms is needed to “put some meat on the bones” of the following unanimous task force recommendations:

- Accountability and Oversight: “Action must be taken to ensure that agencies and officers will be held accountable by the communities they serve.”

- Community Education: “Create methods to establish the public’s understanding of police policies and procedures and recognition of exceptional service in an effort to foster support for the police. Police officers and community members must become proactive partners in community problem-solving.”

- Community Involvement: “There must be ongoing efforts by law enforcement and the community to build trust and strengthen relationships.”

- Grand Jury Process:“The grand jury process shall be reviewed by the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission (OCMC), or appropriate governmental authority, as it applies to the use of force.”

- Recruiting and Hiring: “The state of Ohio shall require all law enforcement agencies to adopt, at a minimum, hiring policies. The state will develop a model policy on hiring to be used by law enforcement agencies.”

- Standards: “The state of Ohio shall require all law enforcement agencies to adopt, at a minimum, policies including, but not limited to, the use of deadly force, with the goal of enhancing the protection of all lives. The state will develop a model policy to be used by law enforcement agencies.”

- Training: “In order to allow officers to do their jobs safely and effectively, and to protect the public, the state of Ohio shall require a greater emphasis on, and investment in, training.”

“Nobody is going to walk away from this. The governor of the state is not going to look away,” Kasich said, addressing those who might doubt his commitment to systemic change. “This isn’t going to be swept under the rug. We hear you. We’re far from done.”

Upon appointment, the advisory board will immediately commence work with the Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) at ODPS to develop new minimum statewide standards for use of force, including deadly force, and for recruitment, hiring and screening of law enforcement candidates, the governor said. No more than 90 days after convening, the board will issue minimum standards to all departments, reserving the right to modify the standards or propose new ones in the future.

The board will also develop “model departmental policies and best practices recommendations which state and local law enforcement departments and local communities will be encouraged to adopt,” including neighborhood policing strategies on how “law enforcement and the communities the officers serve can hold each other accountable for the other’s actions,” the executive order states.

Funded by OCJS, the board will then “monitor and evaluate” all state and local law enforcement agencies’ compliance with statewide standards on use of force and officer hiring, as well as voluntary adoption of model policies, best practices and “any other measure the collaborative believes is necessary.”

Law enforcement agencies that don’t comply will be included in a published list of non-adopters and could even lose their law enforcement training grants. “I’m not sure that’s the smartest thing,” Kasich allowed. Oregon Police Chief Michael Navarre, a member of the task force, said officers also will lose firearm certification if they don’t comply with new statewide standards on use of force.

“These are requirements that probably should have been in place 30 years ago,” Navarre said, acknowledging the funding concerns of local law enforcement. “If they can’t meet these requirements, they should think about contracting with their local sheriff, or combining with other departments, or coming up with creative ways to meet the requirements.”

Kasich said OCJS will issue its first report on departmental compliance by March 31, 2017, with subsequent annual reports based on new or modified minimum standards.

“I believe Ohio can be a model for the rest of the country. ... This is the only place in the United States where this is occurring,” he said, noting the Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien will review the “entire court system” and grand jury process for possible changes.

Turner said turmoil in Baltimore over Freddie Gray’s death at the hands of police signifies a generational “state of emergency” in the inner city.

“We have traveled this entire state to hear the cries of the people of the state of Ohio,” she said.

Born called Kasich’s signing of the executive order a watershed for the state of Ohio, which has long imposed professional standards on individual officers but not law enforcement agencies as a whole. He said there is room to grow among all affected parties.

“It wasn’t the community or law enforcement that needed to change. They both needed to change,” he said, urging against a continuing “code of silence” on either side. “We win and lose the trust every day.”

Kasich said task force recommendations and pending advisory board standards will require better data collection, public transparency and new funding.

“This is going to cost us some money. We’re going to pay for it,” he said, adding that most of the policy-making could be done through executive order.

The governor said he had already spoken with Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) about new appropriations.

“You’re going to pay a lot more if you don’t do it up front. If I have to cut my own money from this budget, I will,” he said. “We’re going to spend money on what we need to spend money on, but we’re not going to throw money at anything.”

Kasich reiterated the importance of reforms in community-police relations for all Ohioans.

“I don’t want to leave office with work left undone in uniting this community,” he said.
Story originally published in The Hannah Report on April 29, 2015. Copyright 2015 Hannah News Service, Inc.
http://www.hannah.com/DesktopDefaultPublic.aspx?type=hns&id=199582

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