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Taking Cops To Court

Police tape
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In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, host Steve Brown discusses the effort to end qualified immunity in Ohio. An initiative called Accountability Ohio Now filed paperwork this week to get the issue on the ballot next year. Chandni Patel, legal counsel for Accountability Ohio Now, joins the show.

Let The Jury Decide

Demands for police reforms have dominated headlines for the last year as America grapples with how to address decades of racial inequities in policing. The police killings of some Black people in Columbus and other Ohio cities have motivated activists to call for things like more police body cameras and diverting funds from police.

Now there’s an organized push to end qualified immunity. That’s the doctrine that exempts police officers and other government employees from most civil liability. You can’t sue a police officer if they acted within the scope of their job.

It’s long been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and cited in the dismissal of lawsuits against police, but some Ohio organizers want to do away with it. A group calling itself Accountability Ohio Now filed paperwork this week in hopes of asking voters next year to end qualified immunity in Ohio.

Redrawing The Map

Ohioans will not be voting on a proposed constitutional amendment on an August ballot. Statehouse Republicans like Senate President Matt Huffman floated the idea in order to delay the redrawing of legislative districts.

Ohio faces constitutional deadlines in September to start updating its maps, but there are big delays in census data because of the pandemic, so they aren’t going to meet the deadline.

Democratic leaders want the Ohio Supreme Court to allow delays this year, but the most likely scenario looks like Republicans will draw new maps with zero Democratic support.

Under a new voter-approved system, that means the map will only be good for four years instead of 10, and they’ll face tougher criteria the next time they update the map.

Snollygoster Of The Week

State Senator Andrew Brenner, the Delaware County Republican who took multitasking to a new level this week. He decided to tap into an Ohio Controlling Board video meeting while driving down the road. He used a virtual background of the inside of a house and maybe he wasn’t hiding anything, but the seatbelt over his torso kinda gave things away.

Send questions and comments to snollygoster@wosu.org.

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.