Miami Valley’s community leaders reflect on police reform progress over the past year

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — George Floyd’s death caused a ripple effect throughout our country focused primarily on police reform. Several Miami Valley community leaders say progress is being made here between residents and law enforcement.

“This idea of defunding the police, I totally disagree with that, I think you should give them more resources,” said Thaddeus Hoffmeister, a professor of law at the University of Dayton Professor.

Legal professionals believe the idea of defunding law enforcement would greatly harm our society. Instead, cities should help provide funding for departments to incorporate new ideas from the community that we’ve all learned one year after Floyd’s death.

Over the past year, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Dayton Unit NAACP have implemented new protocols for officers to increase transparency with the community. Outside agencies will investigate critical incident reports and will no longer be internally investigated. Body cameras are on all sheriff’s deputies and rear seat cameras installed in police cruisers. Additionally, the Crisis Intervention Team is fully operational, which allows a mental health professional to aid officers on mental health calls.

Sheriff Streck believes some parts of the community may still lack trust in law enforcement.

“Bystanders are inserting themselves in, deputies getting heckled, everything is being recorded on a cell phone which is fine. It’s everybody’s right but it just goes to show there is a part of the community that doesn’t trust us so we have to do everything we can to get their faith,” said Sheriff Streck.

Dayton Unit’s NAACP believes legislation is the most powerful tool in healing the nation, including passing the George Floyd Policing Act.

“One thing we know is that we must do everything we can to call our senators,” said Dr. Derrick Foward, president of the Dayton Unit NAACP. “We already know Senator Brown is on board but I’m calling upon every citizen in the Dayton region to call Senator Portman’s office and tell him to get on board with the George Floyd Policing Act.”

Legal professionals believe the new legislation will strengthen trust within law enforcement.

“Law enforcement officers throughout our country do a great job, but again there are some bad apples, and I think these bad apples across the country now have to realize they have to start adhering to police regulations or they’re going to be called out and held accountable,” said Hoffmeister. 

Governor Mike DeWine introduced his own police reform bill recently that involves a Peace Officer Oversight Board and a dashboard with information available to the public.

In June 2020, Dayton Unit NAACP put forth an 8-point plan of expectations they wanted law enforcement to adhere to in the wake of Floyd’s death. The plan includes:

  1. Modify and/or implement a citizens review board
  2. Create a more transparent process around the accountability of officers who violate citizens first amendment rights
  3. Create a policy where police officers who discharge their weapon or use excessive force on an unarmed weapon be suspended without pay during the investigation
  4. Ensure transparency, accountability, and the safety of the community by placing front facing cameras to record on duty officers as well as place cameras inside police cruisers
  5. Include in officer training mental health assessments and knowledge of how to deescalate and diffuse conflict
  6. Ban the use of knee holds and choke holds on citizens who say they can’t breathe
  7. Actively vet all applicants and recruit officers who reflect the community they serve. Psychological evaluations must be used in the application process and the number of diverse applicants must be higher
  8. Provide video footage of all shootings and arrests resulting in loss of life

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