Taking action on law enforcement reform
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is right: Proposals for law enforcement reforms “have been around for a long time — and it’s time for us to take action.”
DeWine unveiled his recommendations for change last week. They include common-sense changes such as no longer allowing the Ohio State Highway Patrol to investigate shootings by its own personnel. Independent probes would be required.
More use of body cameras by law enforcement personnel and establishment of a board empowered to license law officers and deputies — and revoke licenses, if appropriate — are on DeWine’s list.
Members of the General Assembly already have begun work on law enforcement reform. Earlier this month, two members of the state House of Representatives introduced a bill that calls for sweeping changes. Among them would be psychological testing of applicants for law enforcement jobs and a state database of all incidents of police use of force. DeWine has voiced similar ideas.
Thus far, most publicity on the issue has focused on recommendations by Republicans, both the governor and legislators. For meaningful reform to be put in place, Democrats in the General Assembly need to have an active role in the process — and not just as window-dressing.
DeWine wants swift action on his plans. He can accomplish that himself with executive orders regarding a few items on his list. Legislative action will be necessary for many of the reforms, however, and it has been pointed out that the General Assembly has recessed for the summer.
That is a technicality. Both chambers of the legislature have hearings scheduled in June and July. Both can go back into session within a few weeks, if that is deemed wise.
It may not be prudent. Political differences could derail reform, unless the process is planned carefully in a bipartisan manner. Using the rest of this month and next for that may be a way to speed, not delay, progress.