DeWine calls for ban on choke-holds, creation of law enforcement oversight board

Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced recommendations to reform police, including ban choke-holds in most cases, the creation of an oversight and accountability board and mandating independent investigations for officer-involved shootings and deaths in custody.

Currently in Ohio, there is no way to revoke a law enforcement officer’s certificate for misconduct that is not criminal.

Now is the time to begin treating peace officer certificates more like professional licenses, DeWine said. 

>> DeWine: Defunding police ‘absurd’ but reforms are needed

The oversight and accountability board would include members of the law enforcement community as well as members of the public.

DeWine also called for the ban of police choke-holds unless the officer is justified to use deadly force.

Choke-holds would only be permitted if the officer is fighting for their life or protecting the life of another, DeWine said.

“In essence, choke-holds would be banned,” he said. 

DeWine also called on members of Ohio General Assembly to mandate independent investigations and prosecutions for all officer-involved shootings and all deaths in custody. 

Traditionally, the Ohio State Highway Patrol investigates their use-of-force incidents. DeWine said he has instructed he agency to to refer all officer-involved shootings and deaths and in custody involving troopers to be investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

He also instructed OSHP to begin outfitting troopers with body cameras and the Ohio legislature to examine how the state can help local agencies with body camera costs.

Another of DeWine’s recommendations was the creation of a standard use-of-force definition and mandate that all law enforcement agencies report information on use-of-force instances to the Ohio Officer of Criminal Justice Services. All information should be made available to the public, DeWine said.

That data would provide not only provide transparency, but also improve the state’s understanding of why use-of-force incidents happen, the governor added.

He also said a person should be required to pass a psychological test to show that they fit for law enforcement before they begin training.

>> DeWine calls death of George Floyd ‘horrific’, asks for all protests to be peaceful

He asked the Ohio General Assembly to find a permanent funding stream for law enforcement training so that police can continue additional training every year.

There will be six hours of free de-escalation training, use-of-force training and implicit bias training available to any Ohio police office who has not been trained on those topics.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said racism isn’t a law enforcement issue but a societal issue.

He said that most officers are good people, but that there are some bad.

Yost said it’s those bad officers who are making the job harder for good ones and making it less safe for good officers on the street.

Part of reforms announced by DeWine and Yost include looking at police scenario training, such as home many people in training are wearing baggy pants or have tattoos and how many scenarios feature men or women or a black person or a white person.

DeWine previously said calls to defund police were “absurd,” but that he supports more transparency on police misconduct and use of force and a clear standard on how police handle mass protests.

Local and state governments across the country are reviewing police reform after protesters called for change after a George Floyd, a handcuffed and unarmed black man, died while a Minneapolis police officer was kneeling on his neck.

Earlier this month, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost created a Facebook page, Be Heard by the AG, asking for Ohioans to share their ideas on law enforcement reforms.

“Give us your ideas,” he said. “Tell us your story. Help us think about how we should better serve you, your neighbors, your community.”

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