READ MORE: Organizer says expect ‘plenty’ more protests in Dayton region
Demonstrations have been held to protest the death of George Floyd, an African American man who was handcuffed and put face down on the pavement while a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd later died.
DeWine said he’d work with lawmakers in the coming days to address issues of racism as well as inequality for people living in the margins.
“The most important thing is to let our actions speak louder than our words. Words are important. Words of the protesters are significant and need to be heard. But those of us in government who have the ability to change things directly, we have to take this opportunity,” he said. “This is truly our moment to do the hard work … to insure that all Ohioans have the same opportunities.”
PHOTOS: Hundreds gather for protest in Dayton Saturday afternoon
DeWine also said Ohio needs to shore up police training in implicit bias, de-escalation techniques and recognizing mental health challenges; recruit more people of color to serve as officers; make sure all law enforcement agencies adopt best practices on the use of force; and increase oversight, transparency and accountability of police agencies.
The vast majority of Ohio’s 33,000 sworn officers do a “phenomenal job,” DeWine said, but a small fraction have demonstrated “they should not be police officers.”
The governor said he would explore the idea of a central board to license police officers, similar to regulatory boards that license and discipline other professions such as doctors or nurses. Officers who are fired from one department often are hired by another, DeWine said.