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Ohio Democrats Says Legislature Must Enact Community Policing Recommendations

Police in riot gear in front of a protest at the Ohio Statehouse.
Jo Ingles
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Police in riot gear in front of a protest at the Ohio Statehouse.

The top Democrat in the Ohio House says it’s time to take recommendations and reports about community policing off the shelf and put them in action.

House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) the state legislature needs to implement recommendations made by a task force under the Kasich administration, including better training for police officers, better tracking of officer involved shootings and a public education campaign.

She says this must happen right away.

“Your friends who are black or people of color are not OK. Continuously watching black bodies be brutalized is damaging. It is traumatizing," Sykes says.

In December 2014, after the police killings of Tamir Rice in Cleveland and John Crawford III in Beavercreek, the Kasich administration formed a task force to look into reforms. The group issued its findings in April 2015. But the money needed to implement those reforms has never materialized.

"Whether or not we take action is up to the white, Republican Governor, Speaker of the Ohio House, and President of the Ohio Senate," Sykes wrote in a letter Tuesday. "These are the people who have the power to protect Black people. We hear you loud and we hear you clearly by your inaction that you do not believe black lives matter."

Sykes says many black Ohioans are hurting right now and need the space to mourn. Protesters who attended demonstrations over the weekend to decry the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police say that police officers were heavy handed and resorted to using pepper spray when it wasn’t warranted.

In Columbus, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) was hit with pepper spray by police during a rally Saturday. Two local Columbus officials were also maced.

The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus on Tuesday introduced a resolution to declare racism a public health crisis, something that the cities of Columbus and Cleveland both did this week.