26 Dayton police reforms proposed by reform groups

Many aimed at making it easier to file complaints against officers.

Two police reform committees have approved their first round of recommendations that seek to improve the recruiting process and police oversight.

More than two dozen proposals were OK’ed by committee members this week, including some aimed at making it easier to file complaints against police and others intended to help attract more minority police candidates.

“A more accessible and transparent complaint process is the first step to improving police oversight and all 17 recommendations accomplish this goal,” said Brandon McClain, referring to the proposals from the oversight committee, which he co-leads.

The recommendations, which are the product of months of meetings, will head to the Dayton City Commission for consideration.

Committee members say their work is far from finished, but this is a good start to making important changes.

A reform committee focused on recruitment recommends the city create a dedicated recruitment unit inside the police department. The unit will have a “robust” annual budget to support activities like advertising and community events, members said.

The committee also calls for new programs to employ people 18 to 21 years old who are interested in careers in law enforcement. One program could be similar to Columbus' cadet program, which tries to expose young people to police work.

The Columbus police department has had success attracting diverse candidates: This year, nearly half (49%) of people who signed up for the police exams were minorities.

Other recommendations include creating an advisory panel to focus on diversity goals, expanding testing opportunities and times, exploring ways to test applicants in the field and developing test prep materials and sessions with cultural competency in mind.

One barrier to diversifying the police force has been the length of time between applying to be a police officer and acceptance into the academy, officials said.

Next up, the recruitment working group will concentrate on promotion and discipline, said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, the group’s co-lead.

The committee focused on police oversight approved 17 recommendations Tuesday night.

The roughly 25-member group is led by McClain, the Montgomery County recorder, and City Commissioner Matt Joseph.

The group’s recommendations should help make Dayton safer for citizens and law enforcement by increasing transparency, accessibility and oversight, McClain said.

Recommendations include:

  • create an “ethics line” for citizens to make anonymous complaints about police
  • require the city to retain investigations into alleged police misconduct for four years; investigations into sustained use of force violations will be retained for 10 years
  • conduct an education and outreach program to inform citizens about the police complaint process
  • expand access to data about police complaints and the complaint process, possibly including a regular report
  • mandate investigators send regular updates about the status of a complaint to the relevant parties
  • establish a single point of contact for incoming complaints
  • designate the Human Relations Council as the third-party organization that handles complaint intake and case status updates and reports
  • establish a timeline goal for issuing a “cause finding” in complaint cases
  • meet with other agencies and organizations that could receive police complaints to encourage the use of a standard method of sharing this information with the city

The oversight committee is a diverse group of passionate community members who have had frank discussions about policing and policing policies, McClain said.

The group’s recommendations are the result of open discussions at meetings that provide a safe space for members to share diverse opinions and experiences, he said.

“I think this is a great start,” he said.

Commissioner Joseph said the goal is to make complaint system as easy as possible to maneuver for citizens of all backgrounds, including those who have disabilities and non-English speakers.

The group recommends the city utilize its Dayton Delivers mobile app or a similar application to be a “one-stop shop” for complaint intake and sharing information about the process.

The Dayton City Commission earlier this month accepted two recommendations for police reforms from the committee focused on use of force.

One was to acquire body cameras for police officers. The second was for the city commission to receive an annual report about use-of-force statistics and data.

The city’s 2021 budget is very challenging because of revenue reductions related to COVID-19, but implementing body cameras is a high-level priority for commissioners, said Mayor Whaley.

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