Ohio officials encouraged by police standards participation

FILE – In this April 29, 2015, file photo, Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, center, joined by state Public Safety Director John Born, right, and former state Sen. Nina Turner, left, announces a plan to establish first-ever statewide police standards for the proper use of force, recruiting and hiring, during a Statehouse news conference in Columbus, Ohio. A police relations board created by Kasich approved a standard Feb. 17, 2017, that will require all Ohio police departments to collect data on the race and gender of people pulled over in traffic stops, or taken aside for questioning. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The state’s first standards for police department on use of deadly force, body cameras, hiring and other issues soon will have been adopted by more than 500 agencies, officials said Thursday.

State officials said those agencies employ more than 27,000 officers — nearly 80 percent of those in Ohio — and include departments in Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo, as well as the State Highway Patrol. A report to be released Friday says 506 of 877 law enforcement agencies are participating.

The standards aimed at building trust between police and their communities were created by an advisory board commissioned by Gov. John Kasich after a series of fatal police shootings, including the 2014 death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland.

Nina Turner, co-chair of the Ohio Collaborative and a former Democratic state senator from Cleveland, and John Born, co-chair and head of the Department of Public Safety, said Thursday the certification report is a landmark for progress in bridging police-community trust gaps, with more work ahead.

“I’m very proud of what we have accomplished today, knowing very full well that this is the beginning and not an end,” Turner said.

State leaders had urged law enforcement agencies to get on board with the standards by the end of March, though there is no penalty other than potentially facing community backlash. Officials said Thursday police departments offered a variety of reasons for not participating, but they expect more to come around. Their noncompliance will be noted on a list being released publicly Friday

The largest of the non-participating departments is Cleveland police, which is implementing reforms under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Most of the non-participating agencies are much smaller departments.

Ohio has had statewide minimum training standards for individual police officers for decades, but the standards created by the board marked the first state policies for entire police departments.

The participating agencies come from all 88 Ohio counties, according to the Department of Public Safety. The state said the counties with the least coverage by participating agencies include Ashtabula and Williams in Ohio’s northern corners.

Some agencies that have opted out view the standards as duplicative or too difficult to achieve on tight staffing.

 

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