A state law enforcement board on Friday established Ohio’s first statewide standards for use of deadly force by police, limiting the action to officers’ defense of themselves or other people from serious injury or death. The board also adopted new statewide standards for police recruiting and hiring, setting a goal of a qualified diverse workforce, while providing equal employment opportunity.
Gov. John Kasich created the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board after a series of fatal police shootings, including the November death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland.
Ohio law enforcement agencies would have to adopt the standards as minimum department policies. Agencies also must have policies for training officers in the standards and disciplining them when violations occur. The board will begin disseminating the standards to Ohio’s 900-plus police departments, many of which already have deadly force policies in place and may exceed the state standard. But they might not have the full policy language, which includes the training and discipline elements.
By March 2017, the state’s Office of Criminal Justice Services must publish a report listing which state and local departments have adopted and fully implemented the standards.
In a previous meeting, Ohio Department of Public Safety Director John Born, the board’s co-chairman, noted the deadly force standard is consistent with national and international policies on force.
The governor created the board after receiving input from communities around Ohio in a series of forums studying police and community relations. In announcing its creation in April, Kasich set a goal of getting Ohio “ahead of the curve” of problems that have occurred in other communities roiled by the deaths of black citizens at the hands of police. “It is not acceptable to have these divisions between our friends in the African-American community and law enforcement,” the governor said at the time. “It is not acceptable to have a gap. We will bridge this gap.”
A separate police task force convened by Attorney General Mike DeWine studied training of law enforcement officers. It led to an increase in the minimum number of training hours to become a police officer and a boost in state funding for departments to provide extra annual training for veteran officers.