Police panel calls for more oversight
COLUMBUS (AP) — State oversight of Ohio police officers would increase and officers would get more training dealing with the mentally ill under several proposals being considered by a police-relations task force.
Members of the panel created by Ohio Gov. John Kasich suggest implementing measures such as statewide committees to investigate police-involved shootings and a central database of fired officers.
Other suggestions would require state collection of use-of-force incidents and better screening of police applicants, according to the recommendations obtained by The Associated Press through a records request.
The proposals are preliminary. Panel members have two weeks to submit revisions or new recommendations.
A related task force created by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is exploring changes to the way officers are trained.
Both panels were created following protests over a series of police-involved shootings in Ohio and nationally.
Several panelists on Kasich’s task force recommend more training for dealing with the mentally ill and strategies to boost the number of minority police officers.
“Minority representation in law enforcement does not match the racial make-up of our state,” wrote Akron police officer Brian Armstead, who represents the Fraternal Order of Police on the panel.
Armstead proposed law enforcement training programs within predominantly minority high schools as a recruiting tool, one of several suggestions for outreach to minority youths.
A number of panel members suggested holding public demonstrations of police as a way of fostering communication between residents and officers.
“There is a lack of understanding of cultures of our neighborhood communities, especially minority communities, and of the culture of law enforcement,” wrote Phil Cole, executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies.
Other members suggested taking the investigation of police-involved shootings out of the hands of local agencies and creating regional or state teams to investigate.
A similar proposal would create a statewide database of all officers who are fired or resign ahead of being fired.
Without such a database, “the end result is that bad officers are being rehired to do the same job in another jurisdiction,” wrote panel member Michael Navarre, police chief in Oregon in northwestern Ohio and the former Toledo police chief.
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