Ohio plans for police reform stall 2 years after George Floyd’s death

Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 8:12 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - 19 Investigates took a look at where state proposals for police reform stand, two years after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer.

Ohio lawmakers on both sides of the aisle proposed ideas like implicit bias training, banning chokeholds, and forming an independent police oversight board, back in the summer of 2020.

But so far, most of these ideas haven’t moved.

“I know that since George Floyd’s killing, in the custody of the police department, there was some good that came out of it, but there’s still a long way to go,” said State Representative Thomas West, a Democrat from Stark County.

West is also president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.

We spoke with West back in 2020, after he unveiled several police reform bills just weeks after George Floyd’s death.

We checked in with him again last summer, when many of them stalled.

We learned some proposals did materialize, including West’s bill to require recording of police interrogations for most major felonies.

The new public use of force database was also rolled out by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

And a commission to address police training was created too.

“So it’s time that we not only continue to provide the training for police officers, also makes certain that the police force is a makeup of their community and understands their community and is not fearful of their community,” West said.

Representative West also wants to see more transparency and accountability.

The bills he introduced at the Ohio Statehouse would:

  • Ban the chokehold
  • Prohibit police quotas
  • Track police officer employment history
  • Create mental health teams to assist police
  • Require officers to have body and dash cameras

Some of these ideas have gotten support from across the aisle.

Governor Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost called on the general assembly to act nearly two years ago.

They asked for a police oversight board, independent use of force investigations, and banning chokeholds, along with several other proposals.

But most of those ideas were never introduced as bills by lawmakers.

Earlier this year, Governor DeWine unveiled nearly $5 million in grant funding for local police departments to buy and maintain body cameras.

We reached out to his office for a comment on police reform progress, but we have not heard back.

West told us he’s hopeful police reform in Ohio is still coming.

“So I do believe there’s a lot of room for us working together in order to be able to address this issue once and for all,” West said.

West was recently on a commission to address police training and funding across the state.

He said they should be putting out a report soon with some recommendations.

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