DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Governor Mike DeWine announced a new police reform bill being led by state representative and former Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer.
Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck is one of 12 members of the Ohio Collaborative in Police Community Relations, representing all 87 sheriff’s offices in Ohio. Streck says he’s confident every law enforcement agency welcomes this new legislation.
“I have no issue with it once again, as long as it’s done fair and impartial,” said Streck. “In this day and age, anything that promotes more professionalism can’t hurt us.”
The bill will establish a Peace Officer Oversight Board that has the ability to suspend an officer’s license if they break the law. It also creates two databases, one to track use of force incidents and another to track officer discipline, in an effort to increase transparency.
“A situation we have now, someone can go from one police department to another, and if they left under bad terms and didn’t report they worked at the other agency across the state, the new agency may have no idea,” said DeWine.
Ohio’s American Civil Liberties Union says it’s optimistic with the proposed legislation but it says this is only one piece of the solution.
“It means less money for issues such as proper and adequate mental health treatment, drug treatment, education, health care all of these things that we know if we can adequately fund them and make sure people have access will lead to less problems with police and less police calls,” said Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio.
Streck believes the proposed bill is a step in the right direction. He says the pandemic was the “perfect storm” for law enforcement, creating distance due to safety guidelines between deputies and the community. Streck hopes to plan community events in the future.
“We have to gain community trust back, there’s no doubt, you can’t be anywhere in 2021 and not realize we have to do things to gain community trust back,” said Streck. “Give your local law enforcement a chance, if there’s issues, talk about it but don’t just believe everything you hear.”
DeWine says the bill will be ready to present in front of the General Assembly in the next few days. Other budget initiatives in front of the General Assembly include a $10 million proposal that will provide law enforcement agencies across the state body cameras, plus another $1 million in grant funds to help recruit minorities and women into the force.
In June 2020, DeWine required every cabinet agency to review use of force policies and banned the use of choke holds. Last summer, the Ohio State Highway Patrol began obtaining body cameras in addition to dashboard cameras hoping to improve transparency.