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DeWine Says Society Has Obligation To Stop Racist Police Officers

Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio)

Gov. Mike DeWine is speaking out against what he calls "injustice" and "racism" following the alleged murder of George Floyd, a black man who died while under police custody in Minneapolis. DeWine says Ohio has an obligation to do more to prevent this kind of injustice in the future.

DeWine says the Minneapolis police officer’s conduct of violates human decency as well as basic police training.

On May 25, George Floyd was arrested in Minneapolis. During the arrest, Minnesota Police Department Officer Derek Chauvin was seen on video putting his knee on Floyd's neck for several minutes as Floyd apparently struggled to breath. Medics reported Floyd was "unresponsive" at the scene and was declared dead at a nearby hospital. Chauvin was fired from MPD and has now been charged with third-degree murder.

DeWine says watching the video made him question the police officer's training. He says the state of Ohio has an obligation to train police officers, which includes teaching the 35,000 officers to recognize implicit bias.

"We also have the obligation to do everything we can as a society when there is one who is not doing that, one who might be a racist, who might have other challenges, to make sure that they stop being a police officer," says DeWine.

DeWine was asked if "structural racism" should be acknowledged as a main cause of the issue of unarmed people of color dying while in police custody or from police-involved shootings.

DeWine says with this issue and other issues like racial health disparity, there can be several barriers blocking people to access and opportunity.

"Whenever we find barriers, we have to knock those barriers down. Some of those barriers may have to do with racism, some of those barriers may not have to do with racism but you got to knock them down anyway," says DeWine.

Given the death of Floyd and the protests in response to his death, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus announced Friday that their members in the Ohio House and Senate plan to introduce a resolution declaring racism as a public health emergency.

According to a press release, the resolution would include the following actions:

  • Establishing a glossary of terms and definitions concerning racism and health equity
  • Assert that racism is a public health crisis affecting our entire community
  • Incorporating educational efforts to address and dismantle racism, and expand understanding of racism and how racism affects individual and population health
  • Promoting community engagement, actively engaging citizens on issues of racism, and providing tools to engage actively and authentically with communities of color
  • Committing to review all portions of codified ordinances with a racial equity lens
  • Committing to conduct all human resources, vendor selection and grant management activities with a racial equity lens including reviewing all internal policies and practices such as hiring, promotions, leadership appointments and funding
  • Promoting racially equitable economic and workforce development practices
  • Promoting and encouraging all policies that prioritize the health of people of color, and support local, state, regional, and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systematic racism and mitigating exposure to adverse childhood experience and trauma Training of all elected officials, staff, funders and grantees on workplace biases and how to mitigate them
  • Partnering and building alliances with local organizations that have a legacy and track record of confronting racism
  • Encouraging community partners and stakeholders in the education, employment, housing, and criminal justice and safety arenas to recognize racism as a public health crisis and to activate the above items
  • Securing adequate resources to successfully accomplish the above activities.

The governor says protests over Floyd’s death are understandable and appropriate. But he calls on demonstrators to express their outrage peacefully. Several businesses and the Ohio Statehouse were damaged during a Columbus protest Thursday.

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