By Frank Lewis
Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware says his department is in-step with new state standards as laid out by an advisory board established by Ohio Governor John Kasich to implement ways to improve community and police relations
New standards have been set for the first time in Ohio history on proper use of force, including deadly force, and the recruiting, hiring and screening of potential law enforcement officer candidates. The new standards will now be distributed to law enforcement agencies across the state by the Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS).
“These new standards will not only give law enforcement agencies a clear guide to follow, but will hold everyone accountable and instill better confidence with the public,” John Born, Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, who co-chairs the Board with former state Senator Nina Turner, said. “There is no doubt that Ohio will be an even stronger state because of these efforts.”
When it comes to use of force, the new policy is that employees may only use the force which is reasonably necessary to affect lawful objectives including: affecting a lawful arrest or overcoming resistance to a lawful arrest, preventing the escape of an offender, or protecting or defending others or themselves from physical harm.
Concerning deadly force, Born said the preservation of human life is of the highest value in the State of Ohio. Therefore, employees must have an objectively reasonable belief deadly force is necessary to protect life before the use of deadly force. Deadly force may be used only under the following circumstances: To defend themselves from serious physical injury or death; or to defend another person from serious physical injury or death.
“Our policy for use of force already includes the standards adopted by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board,” Ware said. “Our officers are trained to use the least amount of force that is reasonable and necessary to affect an arrest, prevent escape, or protect themselves or the public from harm. In addition, officers are trained to the standards as ruled upon in the U.S. Supreme Court cases of Tennessee v. Garner and Graham v. Connor. Each of these cases, and others, are referenced in our use of force policy. Further, officers are trained in use of force encounters and de-escalation techniques when dealing with those in mental health crisis.”
As the effort pertains to hiring – Born said the goal of every Ohio law enforcement agency is to recruit and hire qualified individuals while providing equal employment opportunity. Ohio law enforcement agencies should consist of a diverse workforce. Communities with diverse populations should strive to have a diverse work force that reflects the citizens served.
“The department uses a multitude of tools to identify candidates that have the right qualities for law enforcement suitability including a background investigation, psychological screening, drug testing, and polygraph examinations,” Ware said. “The board’s recommendations are designed to ensure all departments, large and small, use these same best practices to identify those applicants best qualified and to eliminate from consideration those that are not best suited for law enforcement service.”
For more information on the Ohio Collaborative, including its members, visit: http://ocjs.ohio.gov/otfcpr/occpab/index.html.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.