Police working with Dayton NAACP on changes a year after protests: Your questions answered

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

George Floyd rally downtown Dayton

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Since the murder of George Floyd last year in Minnesota, police departments in the Dayton region have worked on their own and with the Dayton Unit NAACP to update policies, institute new training and purchase body cameras to try to avoid or de-escalate conflicts between officers and citizens.

Here are some key questions answered about what law enforcement agencies are doing to change:

What is the NAACP asking?

Last June, the Dayton NAACP released an eight-point plan for law enforcement departments it says would improve police treatment of and relations with the Black community. The NAACP reached out to more than 20 area departments, mostly in Montgomery County, and heard back from the majority of them. They also reached out to local municipality organizations to promote the plan.

What has the response been?

Foward said departments have been receptive of many of the eight points, including implementing body cameras and dash cameras in patrol cruisers and banning knee and chokeholds. He said more work needs to be done to implement citizen review boards that he says provide an independent perspective into complaints filed against police.

Reforms have also been made in the last year in crisis intervention and duty to intervene. Police chiefs said their departments continue to struggle to recruit diverse officers, which is one of the moves the NAACP has called for.

Who is not working with the NAACP, and why?

The Springboro police department was one of the agencies the NAACP reached out to who declined to work with them.

“(The NAACP’s plan) assumed a lot of things were already broken and that’s just not true,” said Springboro Police Chief Jeffrey Kruithoff.

The Springboro Police Department is already in compliance with many points of the plan, Kruithoff said.

What are some examples?

At least five departments — Dayton, Vandalia, Kettering, Butler Twp. and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office — have hired mental health professionals to respond with officers to some calls.

Departments, including Kettering and the sheriff’s office, have since made their duty to intervene policy clearer, making sure officers know that they must step in even if the other officer is a veteran, superior or member of another agency. Springboro will roll out a new training called Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) to all its officers by next fall.

More than five agencies purchased body cameras or cruiser cameras in the last year, including Dayton, Montgomery County Sheriff’s, Kettering, Huber Heights and Trotwood. Many departments said they have been working on securing funds for them for a number of years.

What’s the next step?

Foward said that the NAACP has been predominately speaking with law enforcement because they are the ones with boots on the ground, but the mission is to reform the criminal justice system as a whole.

“You have prosecutors that are involved, you have judges that are involved, you have attorneys, it’s the system,” he said. “When you think about the first strategy implementing a citizen review board, you have to get officials involved in that. Somebody is going to have to propose it, which is typically city leadership.”

What are the points in the NAACP’s plan for law enforcement policies?

Modifying and/or implementing a citizen’s review board with subpoena powers to investigate complaints made by the public regarding police officers.

Create a more transparent process around accountability of officers who violate citizens’ constitutional rights, police ethics and departmental policies and procedures by making the officers’ names and their disciplinary records available to the public.

Create a policy where officers who discharge their weapon and/or use excessive force on an unarmed person be suspended without pay pending an investigation. The officer’s name, policing history and additional information outlined in public records laws should be made public upon the disposition of the investigation and within a reasonable amount of time.

Ensure transparency, accountability and safety of communities by requiring front-facing cameras to be actively recording all on-duty police officers. The department should also ensure at least two cruiser cameras are utilized in every cruiser, with one facing toward the street and the other toward the person in custody.

Include an emphasis on mental health assessments, de-escalating conflicts and improving community relations in the core training of officers.

Ban the use of knee holds and chokeholds.

Actively vet applicants and recruit officers who reflect and proportionally represent the community they serve. Use psychological evaluations in the hiring of officers. The number of applicants for available positions should be hired with regards to diversity and inclusion.

Provide video of all fatal shootings and arrests, as well as incidents with alleged police brutality, in a reasonable amount of time.

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