Former Montgomery County Sheriff expected to introduce law enforcement reform legislation in days

COLUMBUS — Former Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer is expected to unveil a law enforcement reform package in the Ohio General Assembly that will increase accountability and transparency with police departments across the state, Gov. Mike DeWine said this afternoon.

The announcement comes a day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on murder and manslaughter charges for the death of George Floyd last May.

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“There’s a lot for us to learn from this great tragedy,” DeWine said. “All of our goals should be to work every single day to bring us together as a people, as a country.”

DeWine said Plummer’s package, which should be introduced in a few days, is expected to include the following items:

  • Establish a peace officer oversight and disciplinary board, similar to the state’s nursing board, that would have the ability to pull or suspend an officer’s license. “It is time in Ohio that we begin to treat law enforcement as the professionals that they are,” DeWine said.
  • Use-of-force database: The almost 1,000 law enforcement agencies across the state would report use-of-force incidents to the database.
  • Require independent investigations for critical officer-involved incidents, including shootings.
  • Funding for on-going law enforcement training: “We need an independent, sustainable source for funding,” DeWine said. The funding would be used for state-mandated minimum training hours, which would include continued training around de-escalation and use-of-force scenarios.

Ohio FOP President Gary Wolske spoke with News Center 7′s John Bedell about the legislation proposal.

“We agree that there needs to be some things to fix some problems that are out there. The problems of officers that bounce to department to department who maybe have some issues in an agency and instead of being terminated, they voluntarily resign and they move onto another agency,” Wolske said. “We’ve been pleased that we’ve been involved in the conversations. We’ve had a seat at the table with State Representatives Plummer and Abrams and the Attorney General and had some conversations with some folks from the Governor’s office.”

DeWine first started the reform process after Floyd’s death on June 17, when he issued an executive order for every Ohio cabinet agency to review use-of-force policies and ban the use of chokeholds. The executive order impacted the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Department of Natural Resources officers and other law enforcement agencies under the state’s control, DeWine said.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol also began the process of getting its troopers outfitted with body cameras last summer. DeWine said Wendesday that the purchasing of those cameras has started and he anticipates them being used “within a short period of time.”

“I felt like it was appropriate for them to lead by example,” DeWine said.

The state also has developed the Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment and DeWine ordered the Ohio Community Police Collaborative to develop a standard for law enforcement’s response to mass protests and a standard has been adopted, DeWine said.

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The next step in the reform would involve action from the General Assembly, DeWine said.

Several budget items being considered by the General Assembly include $10 million for body cameras for local law enforcement agencies across the state and $1 million to support recruitment for women and minorities.

Since the death of Floyd, several Miami Valley law enforcement departments, including Dayton Police and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, have ordered body cameras and will be outfitting officers with them.