COLUMBUS— Ohio House Democrats, led by Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron), are responding to the thousands of concerned voices being raised in cities and towns throughout Ohio by announcing today their preliminary legislative plans to combat police brutality. The proposed bills would prohibit profiling, tear gas, and the use of quotas by all law enforcement agencies, as well as call for the independent investigation of officer-involved shootings and the creation of databases to better track problematic behavior and employment history of law enforcement officers.
“In an effort to increase transparency and accountability, while ensuring the safety of citizens who want to protest their government, my office will shortly introduce legislation requiring badge number or other identifying information and authorizing department name be clearly visible at all times when that officer is actively engaged in public safety duties. An exception would be created, if the officer is involved in undercover police work,” said Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid).
House Democrats are currently considering the following bills to address police and civil justice reform:
- A bill that would demilitarize the police by prohibiting Ohio police departments from benefitting from the federal 1099 program, which allows the DOD to offload excess and surplus military weapons & equipment to police departments at little to no cost;
- A bill that would prohibit law enforcement agencies from profiling and requires annual racial or other biased-based police training;
- A bill to prohibit the use of arrest or citation quotas by all law enforcement agencies;
- A bill regarding de-escalation and mental health training;
- A bill to require that all officer-involved shootings and other officer misconduct be independently investigated;
- A bill to create a centralized excessive use of force database that would require all law enforcement agencies to report officer-involved shootings and injuries;
- A bill that requires the Attorney General to maintain a database showing the employment history of police officers;
- A bill to require police officers wear clearly visible and easily traceable identification at all times;
- And a bill to prohibit the use of tear gas by law enforcement.
Additionally, House Democrats are calling on Congress to pass the Congressional Black Caucus’ Justice in Policing Act – the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives.
The Justice in Policing Act would, at the federal level:
1) Establish a national standard for the operation of police departments;
2) Mandate data collection on police encounters;
3) Reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs; and
4) Streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations.
It is supported by 166 U.S. Representatives and 35 U.S. Senators.