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Ohio police reforms backed by FOP to take effect

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A panel brought together by Gov. John Kasich, consisting of community leaders, police officers, ministers and legislators, handed him a blueprint on Wednesday that represented a coming together of police officers who feel under fire and those working on behalf of people who feel unfairly treated by police.

The Columbus Dispatch reported the Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations agreed that everyone wanted the same thing – a solution to the too-often dysfunctional relationship between the public and the police.

“The community and the police, they want the same thing. Everyone wants to feel safe, be safe,” said John Born, co-chairman of the task force. “People want to be safe in their homes, and officers want to go home safely at night.”

The governor and the task force called for better-trained officers to be better connected to their communities, first-ever standards for police agencies on the use of force and hiring, and a number of other changes to avoid the unrest that has plagued other cities.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, Jay McDonald, president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, was happy with the recommendations of the task force, but he noted that the heavy load of reconfiguring standards and training remains.

The Fraternal Order of Police, which has 25,000 members, endorsed calls for increasing minimum annual training for officers from four hours to 40 hours and working to build trust with the public, he said. However, he warned against restrictive model policies and standards on use of force.

“We just need to make sure cops continue to have the ability to do their jobs safely and that they are not portrayed as the cause of the whole world’s problems,” said McDonald. “Police work is too complicated and too random to say if ‘A’ happens, ‘B’ is what results. Every situation develops out of its own circumstances. Big, broad mandates are often impractical.”

“We all recognized the need for some consistency across the state and addressing what Ohio is lacking. The goal is to make our strengths stronger and address our weaknesses,” said Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, who served on the task force.

Law-enforcement leaders are also concerned about how to pay the multimillion-dollar cost of expanded police training on use of force, de-escalation techniques, racial sensitivity and other areas.

“We’re going to take care of it,” Kasich pledged last week when asked about funds to pay for training. The governor said the need is so important that the state must find a way to pay for training.

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