COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Governor Mike DeWine announced a proposal for a new first responder grant Monday.
DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced the proposal to direct $250 million in grant funding to law enforcement and other first-responder agencies during a press conference. The fund would come from the American Rescue Plan Act.
According to a release, the grant would be used to combat violent crime, recruit the next generation of first responders, and enhance wellness resources specifically for peace officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, and others.
”This is clearly not the time to defund the police,” said DeWine. “This is time to fund the police and to fund them in a new and creative way that helps them protect us against the violent offenders.”
DeWine said the grant, developed with support from the Ohio General Assembly, would have $175 million go to state and local law enforcement efforts to prevent violence, solve crimes and “hold violent offenders accountable.”
The governor also said the state is collaborating with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to develop a program to give law enforcement better access to ballistic technology.
DeWine said, “Right now, there are guns and shell casings in evidence rooms across the state that hold a wealth of information, but they haven’t been analyzed because the process for local agencies is cumbersome and complex. They need help, we intend to give them that help.”
He said the proposal would also help clear up crime labs, backlogs in coroner’s offices that have increased due to the pandemic.
“This would also benefit local crime labs across the state as well by speeding up chemistry, toxicology, DNA and other testing. This will help pick up the pace of investigations and decrease the time it takes to identify drug dealers and other criminals.”
In addition, $75 million will improve the recovery and recruitment of first responders. The funds will allow agencies to create their own support groups for trauma plus grant money for recruits to afford basic training. There will also be community and police relations grants to give departments the ability to design programs to address community needs.
“We ask them to deal with frankly, the worst that society has to offer,” said DeWine. “They see so much, they see so much trauma.”
Representative Phil Plummer served Montgomery County for a total of 30 years, 10 of which he served as sheriff. He believes first responders need as much support right now as they can get and DeWine’s proposal is the answer.
“We absolutely need support, we’re losing good men and women left and right and it’s not going to be good when there’s nobody left to answer 911 calls,” said Rep. Plummer.
Rep. Plummer is advocating for DeWine’s $250 million first responder proposal to pass. $75 million would be directed towards trauma and support groups for personnel, which Plummer says would’ve saved many jobs during the opioid epidemic.
“Police officers were quitting their jobs, firefighters and EMT’s were too,” said Plummer. “They’d go help a person who overdosed but then they’d respond the next day to the same person, Narcan them and they’d walk off and go get high again so it was really frustrating.”
Rep. Plummer says 100 officers were cut during his 10 years as sheriff. He says having proper equipment, large staff and support services would not only improve communities but also first responders.
“We gotta keep them focused, that was one of my main jobs as sheriff was to keep the guys and gals focused, there are good people out there that need us and it’s a difficult job,” said Rep. Plummer.
The proposal is currently awaiting the Ohio’s General Assembly’s approval. You can watch the full announcement in the player below.