House Dems release police reform plans

Police took over the intersection of Broad and High streets in downtown Columbus, the location for several flash points over the weekend, with police and protesters jockeying for control over the intersection. Photo by Tyler Buchanan.

As supporters await a hearing on an Ohio House measure to declare racism a public health crisis Tuesday, Democrats released potential legislation targeted at police brutality.

The legislation is still being considered, but could include a move to demilitarize the police by prohibiting state police departments from using the federal 1099 program to obtain surplus military weapons and equipment. 

Other possible bills would seek to eliminate profiling through increased training, eliminate arrest or citation quotas, and remove the use of tear gas from a law enforcement officer’s arsenal. 

The promotion of de-escalation and mental health training, centralized databases for use of force and police officer employment history is also on the table, as well as independent investigation of officer-involved shootings and officer misconduct.

“We believe one of the first, and most immediate, steps we need to take is reforming how we police in this state,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, in a statement. “We call on our Republican colleagues and law enforcement agencies to work with us to address this very real and very pressing problem.”

The concepts were released on the same day that hundreds of people submitted testimony to the Senate Health, Human Services & Medicaid Committee on the Senate’s version of the public health declaration.

No timeline was given for the production of the separate pieces of legislation.

Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.