State Representative and President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) sent a letter Friday to Governor John Kasich urging him to work toward removing Ohio’s front license plate requirement and to implement a statewide mandate for body-worn cameras for law enforcement officials.
Rep. Reece’s calls for reform come on the heels of the police-shooting death of Samuel DuBose, an unarmed black man, in Cincinnati late last month. DuBose was pulled over for not displaying a required front license plate on his vehicle and was ultimately shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati police officer.
Reece will start an online petition today, urging Gov. Kasich to act in light of the DuBose murder.
The full text of Rep. Reece’s letter to the governor is included below:
July 31, 2015
Dear Governor Kasich,
I write to you today on behalf of concerned citizens who are understandably frustrated about the events that have unfolded in my district and in the greater Cincinnati area. I urge you to use your executive authority to ensure the safety and security of both our citizens and our law enforcement officials. I ask that you take immediate action to work to remove front license plate requirements and to implement mandatory body cameras for all law enforcement officers.
On July 19, 2015, Samuel DuBose was said to have been stopped by a University of Cincinnati police officer allegedly over a missing front license plate on his vehicle. What should have been a routine traffic stop ended with a bullet to the head. While Mr. DuBose’s failure to comply with the dual license plate law did not cause his death, emphasizing cracking down on minor infractions certainly does not ease community-police tensions. Under no circumstance should a man have to die while getting stopped for a minor infraction such as not having a front license plate.
Removing Ohio’s front license plate requirement would be a step in the right direction so that our law enforcement officials can better focus on keeping our communities safe. Ohio would join 19 other states in not requiring dual plates, including Indiana and Kentucky. For border towns like Cincinnati, where thousands of drivers cross into Ohio from across the tristate region, this change would be a major step forward.
More important in the Samuel DuBose case, however, is the crucial role police-worn body cameras played in the legal process. The account as told by the police officer detailed a struggle and the officer being dragged by Mr. DuBose’s vehicle as he sped away. However, once we were able to view the footage from the officer’s body camera, the truth of the incident was far different. The lead prosecutor in this case has stated that without this camera, Mr. DuBose’s family would likely have been able to pursue justice for their son.
This case shows body cameras are critical in getting the story right. They provide transparency and safety not only for citizens, but for our officers. Body cameras are an effective and essential tool for providing truth and justice to the people of our state. We must do everything in our power to ensure body cameras are standard issue for every single law enforcement official in the state of Ohio. It is a matter of transparency; it is a matter of justice.
As president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus and a founding member of the Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations, I have been working to bring community leaders and members of law enforcement together to help better understand each another. We have made meaningful strides in healing and improving this relationship, but there still much work to be done.
This tragic event has led to citizens calling for justice and reform in Ohio immediately. As a result, I am doing everything in my authority as a state representative to bring about change.
Therefore, on behalf of the citizens of our great state, I urge you to use your office to make real, substantive change on behalf of Ohioans by removing front license plate requirements and to implement mandatory body cameras for law enforcement.
Thank you for your consideration.
33rd House District