by J.D. Davidson
More than 500 agencies in Ohio have adopted the state’s new law enforcement minimum standards to be state certified, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday.
Ohio changed its standards after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota last spring and the subsequent protests.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety’s 2021 Law Enforcement Certification Report showed 529 Ohio agencies have adopted fully the primary standards, which include new ones created last year. Eleven agencies are in the process of adopting and being certified.
“I applaud the agencies that have achieved certification in the state’s minimum standards and have demonstrated a clear commitment to enhancing community police relations,” DeWine said. “A positive relationship between law enforcement and community members is critical to help ensure both the safety of the public and the safety of our officers.”
The primary policy standards, which define circumstances for the use of force and deadly force, was updated in 2020 to limit the use of choke or vascular neck restraints. DeWine then asked in December to add new standards for mass protests and demonstrations. Those will be included in next year’s report.
The new mass protest standards call for law enforcement agencies to develop a policy that protects the public and officer safety while upholding the constitutional rights of expression, assembly and freedom of the press. DeWine said the policy should restrict the fewest freedoms possible; limit the use of force, coercion and intrusiveness; target only harmful behaviors and conditions; and deploy predictable and unbiased tactics.
The report showed the bulk of certified agencies surround the major cities of Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton, Akron-Canton and Youngstown.
In total, 83% of the state’s population is served by a certified agency or one seeking certification. Also, 83% of law enforcement officers are employed by a certified agency or one in the process of becoming certified.
At the same time, 207 agencies are also certified in additional standards, such as community engagement, body-worn cameras, law enforcement telecommunicator training, bias-free policing, employee misconduct and law enforcement vehicular pursuits.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is regional editor for The Center Square.