Four local departments certified in Ohio’s new ‘deadly force’ standards

More than 100 Ohio law enforcement agencies have applied for or are undergoing review for the state’s first police standards that include use of deadly force and hiring, the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board said.

Already, the Board said, a dozen, including local law enforcement agencies, became “provisionally or fully certified by meeting new statewide standards for the use of force, including deadly force, and agency recruitment and hiring.”

They include the New Knoxville Police Department in Auglaize County, the Ansonia Police Department in Darke County, the Colerain Police Department in Hamilton County, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Montgomery County, and the Sidney Police Department in Shelby County.

“I’m proud of the fact that they have raised the bar of professionalism across the state of Ohio,” Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said. He said his office was the first in the state to meet the initial standards.

The standards were developed by a 12-member collaborative group in August 2015 to strengthen community-police relations following two high-profile police shootings in Ohio.

The new state standards on deadly force are similar to existing standards but now would emphasize the preservation of human life. Like current standards, it restricts officers to defending themselves or others from death or serious injury.

An advisory panel was formed by Gov. John Kasich in the wake of the 2014 police shootings of John Crawford III in Beavercreek’s Walmart and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in a Cleveland park.

“These law enforcement agencies are demonstrating a commitment to providing extraordinary services in their communities by engaging in this certification process,” John Born, Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety and co-chair of the Ohio Collaborative, said.

The state said it is partnered with the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to help certify Ohio’s 1,000 law enforcement agencies. It is expected that certifications will continue throughout 2016 and a report detailing the compliance status of agencies will be published in March 2017.

Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers said he expects his department will have no difficulty meeting the new standards, having already met or exceeded standards set by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., or CALEA.

“We are already meeting a national standard,” Evers said. The deadly force standard is already based on case law, he added.

Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said he anticipates meeting the new state standards will involve tweaking current practices, but added that he doesn’t anticipate any serious issues.

“We don’t anticipate having any problems,” Fischer said.