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Gov. DeWine announces efforts to reform policing, calls defunding police 'absurd'

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on June 9, 2020. (WSYX/WTTE){ }
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on June 9, 2020. (WSYX/WTTE)
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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced efforts and moves to bring about change during his press briefing Tuesday. It was discussed on the same day George Floyd was laid to rest.

"I have never met a police officer who did not think more training was good," said DeWine said.

DeWine is asking about half of Ohio's police forces, about 400, to start or finish certification when it comes to use of force, or hiring and recruitment standards. These best practices or minimum standards were determined by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board, which was officially formed in 2015 under then-Governor John Kasich.

Plus, DeWine talked about new efforts, like a recruiting office to try and diversify Ohio police forces, by encouraging women and people of color to join.

"The state will help local agencies with recruitment and with retention," he said.

He's also directing the advisory board to develop standards for law enforcement's response to mass protests.

But, the governor said law enforcement must be able to act during times of violence.

The governor reacted to a question about calls to defund police that have been heard across the country.

"I think that would be absurd," he said.

The governor said first responders are needed, but qualified that that doesn't mean they won't focus on reforms.

"Doesn't mean we don't make changes," he said.

ABC6/FOX28 asked Dr. Patrick Oliver about that national conversation.

He's the Director of the Criminal Justice Program at Cedarville University, with almost three decades of law enforcement experience, serving as police chief in Cleveland, Grandview Heights and more.

"Policing is an important, valuable and essential public service. At some level, law enforcement officers will be needed. Having said that, defunding the police, that whole call is about making major reform within police departments," he said.

He believes potential defunding would more likely be partial than full, potentially with civilians fulfilling some police services.

Oliver agrees, training is always desired, but he believes there could be hurdles to overcome if police unions and management don't want the same training.

"Agencies need to try to change how they operate right now. Either they are going to make the changes or changes are going to be mandated," said Oliver.

He believes the governor's push to recruit people of color and women could have an impact, and as the profession changes, different people could be attracted to join.

Oliver said there could be concerns from some departments about where money is coming from to complete training.

DeWine said he is advising state employees to reach out to departments to help.

The advisory board website lists Columbus Police, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office and more as certified agencies.

ABC6/FOX28 did reach out to the City of Columbus about whether Columbus officers undergo any kind of bias training.

Here is the information sent by a spokesperson:

Bias training is mandatory for all Columbus Police officers and incoming recruits. It became mandatory in 2010 and is required for everyone in the division. It's usually 2 to 4 hours a year. The courses are usually designed by Columbus Police's advanced training staff. They research topics selected by the chief and then present the information they find. Occasionally they use a commercial course such as Blue Courage. The training is different every time. Topics have included, implicit bias, ethics and bias, inclusion and bias, bias and de-escalation, and procedural justice and police legitimacy.
NOTE: In addition, they have scheduled a bias training from the Anti-Defamation League for later this year. Those plans were paused due to the coronavirus, but we are still hopeful they can get the class scheduled for the 3rd quarter of this year.

You can look up certified police agencies here on the state's website.

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