DeWine pitches statewide police oversight board to Cincinnati public security committee

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CINCINNATI – The City Council’s Legal and Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday morning had a special guest: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was videoconferenced to the meeting to share his vision of police reform across the state with local lawmakers.

DeWine said Cincinnati was a role model nationwide for its collaborative agreement aimed at improving police-community relations following the shooting of an unarmed black man by a Cincinnati police officer in 2001 and the riots in Over-the-Rhine and Downtown that followed. But to move forward, DeWine said cops must be treated like any other professional, which means there must be adequate oversight and discipline.

“Being a cop is a profession and we should treat it the same way we treat a dentist, doctor or other profession,” DeWine said Tuesday. “One of the goals we have no matter where you live in the state of Ohio … (is) to have some consistency around law enforcement.”

DeWine’s police reform plan would establish a nationwide police oversight body that would regulate police licensing and the discipline of officers.

“A board would set standards of conduct; it would receive complaints of violations of that behavior; it would investigate those complaints,” DeWine said.

This board would also have the power to suspend or terminate an officer.

Cincinnati police chief Eliot Isaac said he supported the idea and called it “natural progress.”

“I think just like a nurse, doctor or pharmacist, you are conditioned and licensed by a board of directors, so is it for a cop,” he said. “You got your certification through the Ohio Police Officers Training Academy. For officers who are found or known to be involved in misconduct, I think it’s great to revoke that license so they don’t move from department to department can jump. “

DeWine stressed, however, that his plan was not intended to remove disciplinary control from the local departments.

“What we want to do is improve this in some ways and give it more power and authority on the ground, while at the same time setting strong national standards,” DeWine said.