Two Republicans from the Ohio House say they have a plan to reform the state’s police departments.
“We need to protect the good officers, and get rid of the bad officers, plain and simple,” Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Dayton, said. “One of the most frustrating parts of my career as an administrator wads dealing with the bad officers. The process makes it very difficult to get rid of the bad officers, and we’re going to fix that.”
Plummer served as the Montgomery County sheriff and his co-sponsor, Rep. Cindy Abrams, R-Harrison, worked in the Cincinnati Police Department.
Their 15-point plan, which is expected to be formally introduced Thursday, is one of a growing number of bills being introduced in Columbus in response to the ongoing protests across Ohio in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
Protesters around the country have been calling for police reforms at both the local and federal level. What House Republicans propose is to use common pleas court judges for arbitration hearings on police misconduct.
“That way when we get continual bad arbitrations, the public has recourse,” Plummer said. “You can un-elect these bad judges making bad decisions.”
He and Abrams also propose creating a statewide database that would prevent “bad officers” from “department hopping,” mandatory psychological testing for new hires, more supervisory officers on the streets and a review of certain traffic violations and other crimes that may be enforced differently across the state.
“We need more minorities in the police department, that’s the bottom line,” Plummer said. “Our police departments should reflect the diversity of our communities.”
House Democrats introduced their own ideas for police reform earlier in the week, and the proposals have some overlap, such as giving teeth to a set of recommendations created several years ago by a police advisory board on things like use of force.
Democrats also asked for mandatory bias training, visible identification on officers at all times, a ban on the use of tear gas for crowd control and de-escalation training. Plummer said he would be open to incorporating other ideas into his bill, but he hasn’t had those conversations yet. The pair plans to hold a listening tour this summer to meet with different communities and faith leaders.
“The citizens need to help direct how they need to be policed,” Plummer said.
Leaders in the Ohio Senate are planning a similar listening tour. Neither group has released dates or locations yet.