(NOTE: This guest column appeared on the Dayton Daily News’ Ideas and Voices page Sunday, June 14, 2020. Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson asked a diverse group of people with ties to the Dayton area about the impact of protests. Columns from other participants are linked throughout this piece.)
With protests taking place in all 50 states, it’s clear our nation is having important conversations regarding race relations. This dialogue is essential in reaching understandings with each other so we can better address the problems we face in Ohio.
As your state representative, it’s been my goal to use my 30 years of experience at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office to advocate for effective criminal justice reform in Ohio. This reform takes many shapes, including overhauling Ohio’s criminal sentencing code, protecting the rights of the accused, increasing police oversight and more.
I believe Ohio should provide opportunities for non-violent offenders struggling with mental illness and addiction to get help and become a productive member of society. House Bill 1 addresses this issue by expanding the use of interventions instead of convictions so these individuals can enter programs for treatment instead of jail and lengthy prison terms. I’m honored to sponsor this top priority, bipartisan legislation with state Rep. Paul Hicks-Hudson, D-Toledo.
Now more than ever, we need to increase public confidence in the professionalism and integrity of law enforcement. That’s why I’m proud to sponsor House Bill 277 with state Rep. Thomas West, D-Canton. This bipartisan legislation requires audio or audiovisual recordings of custodial interrogation for most major felonies in order to decrease the risk of wrongful convictions.
Most recently, I am planning on introducing legislation that that creates new protocols in several areas of law-enforcement, including hiring, use of force, and officer supervision. It’s vital that Ohio has the proper standards in place in order to get rid of bad officers. Increasing oversight for police certificates will improve community relations and grow public trust.
Today’s climate presents an opportunity for all of us to come together and discuss how we can make each Ohioan feel safe and protected. Elected officials like myself have the responsibility to make sure your voices are heard.
One piece of legislation can’t solve all of the issues we face today, but I am committed to getting these bills signed into law so we can begin seeing positive changes in Ohio’s criminal justice system.
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