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House Democrats call for police reform across Ohio

The group is calling for more transparency and accountability among police officers in cases of lethal force.

In the wake of the fatal police shooting of 16-year old Ma'Khia Bryant, House Democrats are calling for changes in how police are trained to do their jobs.

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) hosted a virtual press conference Tuesday morning to outline a police reform legislative package. 

Sykes met virtually with other House democratic lawmakers to come up with ways on increasing accountability for law enforcement, addressing racial bias and improving community-police relations. 

The changes include:

  • More de-escalation training.
  • Body camera video released within 24-hours.
  • Creation of a state database to track the employment history of police officers so that bad officers can't jump from one police department to another.
  • More anti-bias training and mental health training for officers who are involved in the use of lethal force.

“Gross misconduct would never work at your job that's why we need change,” said Rep. Sykes.

“These bills are about accountability and transparency and they will save lives,” says Rep. Crawley.

The group has not determined whether Ohio's database would be open for public view.

The reforms the lawmakers are requesting have not yet received approval from the Ohio chiefs of police. However, the group said many of the issues are the same concerns expressed by chiefs of police across the state.

The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police released a statement Tuesday morning, announcing it is working with the Governor's office and Attorney General's office to help with police improvement. 

"As an organization, the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police supports proper training for law enforcement officers.  Many departments across the state provide anti-bias training, de-escalation training, and mental health training for their officers and communication technicians. The mental health training is for both how to deal with someone with a mental health issue that needs help and for the law enforcement officer who has experienced a tragic situation or reoccurring stress.

"To exceed the expectations of the communities that we serve, we need to provide our law enforcement officers with these resources.  We are currently asking for a dedicated funding source for training to ensure that Law Enforcement Officers from all agencies have access to critical training."