Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) is proposing changes to the law enforcement process when it comes to recruitment, training, and oversight in response to the anti-racism protests. But other state leaders say the proposals continue to ignore what they see as the root problem of policing.
DeWine's proposals include mandatory psychological testing and a high school diploma for police recruits, more implicit bias training, independent investigations for all police shootings and in-custody deaths, and a police licensure review process.
"None of this is easy. We're not saying that if we do everything right here we're not going to have a tragedy in the future. But our job is to lessen the odds of those tragedies occurring. And the steps that we're talking about today are steps that will truly make a difference," DeWine says.
DeWine says chokeholds and use of force should only be used if an officer believes to be in a life-threatening situation. Protesters argue "threat" is subjective and becomes an issue of racism. DeWine says that's where training and protocols come in.
"A very specific protocol. That that officer knows, and understands, and is accountable to. Because when things are happening very quickly, that officer has to be able to go back to their training but also to the protocol, 'when I see this, I do this -- when I see this, I don't do this,'" says DeWine.
House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) says the question of threat is an issue.
"That is a subjective standard that has allowed many of these cases to go unprosecuted or even if they are prosecuted convictions have failed," says Sykes. "Because of that subjectivity, it's absolutely true, black bodies are viewed as weapons."
The full list of proposals from DeWine include:
- Law enforcement oversight and accountability board
- Independent use-of-force investigations/prosecutions
- BCI officer-involved shooting investigative unit
- Use-of-force transparency
- Body cameras
- Advanced training
- Basic training psychological exam
- Ohio Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment
Sykes says DeWine's proposals fall short and that racism must be recognized as the root of the problem for policing.
"These are not the recommendations of Black lawmakers, far from it. What we want is to uplift the voices of Black Ohioans who we have heard from at protests, community meetings, and in everyday interactions. Statehouse Republicans, from the governor to the speaker, don’t seem interested in truly listening to Black Ohioans. They think they have the answers to hundreds of years of racism, brutality and oppression. They do not," says Sykes in a written statement.
Many of DeWine's proposals must be taken up as legislative measures in the Ohio House and Senate. DeWine says the proposed reforms were developed with feedback from law enforcement groups.