Ohio lawmakers unveil plan for major police reforms

Ohio lawmakers unveil plan for major police reforms

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio Democrats revealed a plan for major police reforms after protests across the country erupted over the death of George Floyd.

Lawmakers are calling for a stop to racial profiling and a statewide database that tracks police employment history.

19 Investigates spoke to one of the lawmakers behind the package of bills.

“I think the time is now, the time is right to seize the opportunity. Not just seize the opportunity, it's time for change,” said State Representative Thomas West (D- Canton).

West said people are calling for action.

“It’s a little different this time around,” he said. “Because not only do you see African Americans who are very angry, and very upset and wanting to see change, but you also see our white brothers and sisters marching right along with us, side by side.”

He's working with House Democrats to combat police brutality.

First on their list is to eliminate racial profiling.

Next, they want to prohibit quotas for officers.

“So we need more race-based training and implicit bias training for officers so that these things don't happen,” West said.

The plan would create two statewide databases.

One would track use of force, including officer-involved shootings.

Another database would show the employment history of police officers.

“That's very vital, so future departments and future communities don't have to suffer with bad behavior,” West said.

The plan would ban the use of tear gas by law enforcement and calls for independent investigations of officer-involved shootings and misconduct.

“It's very important when these investigations come up, not just having a citizen review, but also an independent audit from outside that organization to come in and really look at that incident that happened to get justice,” West said.

Last week, Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, announced plans to improve policing and transparency, including appropriate responses to protests.

“At what point in a protest do measures like tear gas, pepper spray and non-lethal projectiles become necessary. Two, what tactics and techniques are in fact best practices for dealing with a crowd that is failing to disperse,” DeWine said.

West says it comes down to trusting our police officers.

“When we are in trouble we need to be able to call our men in blue, our women in blue. And know that we are getting justice. Justice, and that we are not going to be victimized by the very people that are helping us,” he said.

House Republicans are also taking a look at police reforms, under House Bill 703.

Their proposal includes psychological evaluations for recruits and a database tracking discipline for violent police officers.

The bill would also improve compensation and training for police officers.

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