The Pledge of Allegiance ends “with liberty and justice for all.” We support policing reform that will ensure this pledge for all Americans.
What changes could help? Gov. Mike DeWine's proposals are a start. We've added a few more, acknowledging that state officials need to find a permanent funding source for them rather than passing them along to cash-strapped municipalities as unfunded mandates.
As DeWine suggested, create a state board to license police officers, as we do teachers or lawyers.
Ban chokeholds. Police have many nonlethal tools available to them. Make sure training is funded so officers remain adept at using those tools safely. It's like any skill in any profession. Use it or lose it, and a crisis is not the time to practice.
Ensure officers receive intermittent mental health evaluations as part of a wellness program. Address stigma for those who seek help.
Institutionalize community policing, with its focus on building relationships between police and those whom they serve.
States must provide funds for software, servers and records clerks so body cameras can be worn by all police. Cameras are a first step, but of minimal effect without a server for storage. In addition, adequate staff must be available to redact private information when public requests for videos are made. The expense associated with software, servers and staff is a primary reason body cameras are not in wide use in Ohio.
Have the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation handle probes into police misconduct.
Create a statewide use-of-force policy.
Provide state funding to pay social workers to work alongside officers responding to calls for domestic, mental health, drug, family or homeless issues. Taxpayers might be shocked to learn what it costs for police to repeatedly respond to non law enforcement-related calls. Yet, they must. Eugene, Oregon, has developed a model that deploys both police and social service professionals to such calls that come in to 911. We've been told police here would welcome social service professionals' assistance in many situations.
We are not in favor of changes to current qualified immunity protection. Implement the above. Weed out the bad apples. Don't punish the vast majority who take seriously the responsibility of providing for everyone's safety.