(The Center Square) – Ohio Democrats announced they will reintroduce a plan to attack what they call problem police practices and to create new thoughts on community policing, saying accountability for inappropriate policing is rare.
Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, said recent killings of Black people across the state and summer protests in relation to the murder of George Floyd, along with other incidents, challenges the safety of Ohioans.
“Democrats are serious about police reform. That’s why we are reintroducing our comprehensive police reform package that restores accountability, modernizes use of force standards and tackles racial bias to promote safety and security for all Ohioans,” Sykes said Tuesday during a news conference. “It fundamentally rethinks the way we police our community. It includes the voices of many.”
The package mandates training, both before joining a force and continuing education, in de-escalation techniques, cultural competency, mental health, first-aid and rendering aid. Officers also would be required to exhaust all alternatives before using deadly force.
It includes Andre Law’s in memory of Andre Hill, a Black man shot and killed by a white police officer in Columbus in December.
That bill would require officers with body or dash cameras to activate those cameras when arriving on a scene. It also requires another officer to intervene if excessive force is used and report it to a supervisor. The Columbus City Council passed a similar law in February.
Columbus officer Adam Coy was fired in December after shooting Hill as he walked out of a garage holding a mobile phone, according to The Associated Press.
The AP also reported body cameras showed that after Hill was shot, two other officers rolled Hill over and put him in handcuffs before leaving him alone again. No camera footage showed officers offering first aid while Hill was bleeding on the ground.
“These bills are about accountability and transparency. They will save the lives of both law enforcement and the community,” Rep. Erica Crawley, D-Columbus said.
The package also includes the creation of a database that will show employment history of police officers. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine included the same proposal recently when offering police reform proposals after the April 19 shooting death of Ma’Khai Bryant in Columbus.
"We need commonsense police reform, and we need it right now," Rep. Adam Miller, D-Columbus, said. "These commonsense police reforms will bring us all under one roof and make us safer.”