Board OKs 1st Ohio standards for police use of deadly force

Published 12:21 am Sunday, August 30, 2015

COLUMBUS (AP) — Use of deadly force by police officers would be limited to defending themselves or others from serious injury or death under Ohio’s first statewide standards adopted Friday and sent to hundreds of law enforcement agencies.

The standards follow national and international policies on force and says officers should follow rules for force set out by the state and U.S. Supreme courts.

“What we’re really after is trying to raise the bar so those agencies that don’t have these policy statements or other elements are able to have a good guidepost of where they need to be,” said John Born, Ohio’s public safety director and co-chair of the board that developed the standards.

Ohio police departments must adopt the standards as minimum policies. Agencies also must have policies for training officers in the standards and disciplining them when violations occur.

The panel will now disseminate the standards to Ohio’s 900-plus police departments, many of which already have deadly force policies in place, some of them exceeding the state standard. But they may not have the full policy language, which includes the training and discipline elements.

By March 2017, the state’s Office of Criminal Justice Services must list which state and local departments have adopted and fully implemented the standards, though there are no repercussions for agencies that don’t comply. Born has said he expects full compliance.

The board also adopted a non-deadly use of force standard and new statewide standards for police recruiting and hiring with a goal of establishing a qualified and diverse workforce while providing equal employment opportunity.

Gov. John Kasich created the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board after a series of fatal police shootings, including the November death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that deadly force can be used against a fleeing felon who poses a threat to the community. That decision is important enough that the standard should include some reference to it, said Michael Navarre, police chief of Oregon in northwestern Ohio.

Debate on the deadly force standard lasted more than an hour.

“We want to try and eliminate the Monday morning quarterbacking, which is what all this is about,” said Akron police officer Brian Armstead.

“What we’re trying to change is the proliferation of these shootings that are given rise to this crisis in this country,” countered Cleveland State urban studies Professor Ronnie Dunn.

Such comments reflect conversations going on in Ohio communities, said former state Sen. Nina Turner of Cleveland, a board co-chair.