By 1812Blockhouse; State of Ohio

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Tom Stickrath have released an update on the number of Ohio law enforcement agencies that have implemented Ohio’s statewide minimum standards on use of force, deadly force, hiring, and recruitment.

According to the 2021 Law Enforcement Certification Report issued today by the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS), a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, a total of 529 law enforcement agencies in Ohio have fully adopted the primary standards and 11 agencies are in the process of adopting the primary standards set by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board.

Those updates reflect that all seven of Richland County’s law enforcement agencies are in some phase of the certification process, meaning that 100% of Richland County’s population is covered in this aspect. All 224 law enforcement officers are included.

Local agencies and certification levels include:

  • Bellville Police Department — Groups 1, 2, 3, and 4
  • Butler Police Department — Group 1
  • Lexington Police Department — Groups 1, 2, 3, and 4
  • Mansfield Police Department — Groups 1, 2, 3, and 4
  • Ontario Police Department — Groups 1, 2, 3, and Re-Certification
  • Richland County Sheriff’s Office — Groups 1, 2, 3, 4, and Re-Certification
  • Shelby Police Department — Groups 1, 2, 3, and 4, with Re-Certification in process

Groups include the following:

  • Group 1 — Use of Force, Use of Deadly Force, Employee Recruitment and Hiring
  • Group 2 — C0mmunity Engagement, Body Worn Cameras, Telecommunicators
  • Group 3 — Bias Free Policing, Investigation of Employee Misconduct
  • Group 4 — Vehicular Pursuit

The primary policy standards, which define circumstances for use of force and deadly force and promote equal employment and non-discrimination, were developed by the Ohio Collaborative in an effort to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve. In 2020, the use-of-deadly force standard was updated to limit the use of choke or vascular neck restraints.

“I applaud the agencies that have achieved certification in the state’s minimum standards and have demonstrated a clear commitment to enhancing community-police relations,” said Governor DeWine. “A positive relationship between law enforcement and community members is critical to help ensure both the safety of the public and the safety of our officers.”

According to the report, 83 percent of Ohio’s population is served by a certified agency or an agency actively seeking certification. Also, 83 percent of law enforcement officers are employed by a certified agency or an agency actively seeking certification. Since the establishment of the standards, 210 agencies have achieved recertification in those same standards.

A total of 207 law enforcement agencies are also certified in additional standards established by the Ohio Collaborative such as: community engagement; body worn cameras; law enforcement telecommunicator training; bias-free policing; employee misconduct; and law enforcement vehicular pursuits.

In December 2020, a ninth standard was developed at Governor DeWine’s request to address chokeholds and mass protests. An accounting of agencies certified in the new Law Enforcement Response to Mass Protests/Demonstrations will be included in next year’s report.

This report also includes statistics on Ohio law enforcement agencies that have met federal certification standards. On June 16, 2020, Executive Order 13929 on Safe Policing for Safe Communities was issued “to ensure that law enforcement agencies continue striving to provide transparent, safe, and accountable delivery of services to communities.” The U.S. Department of Justice selected OCJS and the Ohio Collaborative Law Enforcement Agency Certification Program as the independent credentialing body responsible for certifying Ohio law enforcement agencies in these federal standards. To receive certification, at a minimum, agencies must be compliant with two mandatory safe policing practices: adherence to applicable federal, state, and local laws, and prohibition of choke holds, a physical maneuver that restricts an individual’s ability to breathe for the purposes of incapacitation, except in those situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law.

Today’s report shows that OCJS certified 620 agencies in this federal certification, covering 81 percent of Ohio’s population.

OCJS partners with the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to help certify Ohio’s law enforcement agencies in the state and federal standards.

For more information, please visit the Ohio Collaborative’s web site.

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

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