State task force on police relations to meet locally tonight

Crawford death among events that have strained community relations.

Gov. John Kasich’s statewide task force to review best practices for police officers will hold a public forum tonight at Central State University.

The 24-member Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations is holding meetings in Ohio before making recommendations to Kasich. Today’s forum at CSU will be from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Paul Robeson Cultural & Performing Arts Center.

“The purpose of the task force is to develop strategies to help improve the important relationship between law enforcement and the communities they are charged with protecting,” said Karhlton Moore, executive director of Ohio Criminal Justice Services.

The work comes after multiple high-profile incidents that strained community-police relations. That includes the Aug. 5 officer-involved shooting death of John Crawford III of Fairfield, who was killed in a Beavercreek Walmart. Crawford was shopping in the store, holding an unboxed air rifle he picked up from a shelf and talking on his cell phone.

A 911 caller told dispatchers the man appeared to be pointing a weapon at people, and Beavercreek Officer Sean Williams shot Crawford to death seconds after encountering him in a store aisle. A grand jury did not indict Williams, who said he ordered Crawford to drop the weapon.

The task force is chaired by John Born, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, and Nina Turner, former Ohio senator.

The five issues Kasich charged the task force with exploring are: best community policing practices; law enforcement training; standards for law enforcement interaction with the community; the criminal justice system and community oversight; and involvement in law enforcement.

Other members are: George Voinovich, former Ohio governor; Louis Stokes, former member of Congress; Eve Stratton, former Ohio Supreme Court justice; Brian S. Armstead, officer, Akron police; Phil Cole, executive director, Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies; Dr. Ronnie Dunn, Associate professor at CSU; Rev. Damon Lynch III, senior pastor at New Prospect Baptist Church; Bernie Moreno, president of The Collection Auto Group; Anthony Munoz, former Cincinnati Bengal; Amy Murray, Cincinnati councilwoman; Rev. George Murry, bishop at Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown; Michael J. Navarre, Oregon (Ohio) police chief; Ronald J. O’Brien, Franklin County prosecutor; Andre T. Porter, director at Ohio Department of Commerce; Tim Derickson, representative; Alicia M. Reece, representative; Sara Andrews, Chief Justice’s designee; Tannisha D. Bell, Attorney General’s designee and Sen. Sandra Williams, senate minority leader designee.

Other forums are scheduled for Feb. 26 at University of Toledo and March 10 at the University of Cincinnati.

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