June 2020

What police reform, demilitarization could look like; expert and community weigh in

Courtesy of ABC6/Fox28
June 25, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — We’ve heard Columbus City leaders proposing a lot of change, including demilitarizing the police force.

“Everything from tanks which are currently allowed to be purchased to camouflage uniforms, which aren’t weapons, which do certainly militarize the presence of police,” said Columbus City Council President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown.

She discussed hearings to review what police are authorized to purchase as Columbus City Council announced proposals Thursday.

Calls for reform are in response to weeks of protests in Central Ohio and across the nation following the death of George Floyd.

ABC6/FOX28 asked Dr. Patrick Oliver of Cedarville University about what it could take to enact different reforms.

He’s the Director of the Criminal Justice Program at Cedarville University, with almost three decades of law enforcement experience, serving as police chief in Cleveland, Grandview Heights and more.

“Each of these are a little different, the training initiatives like when you are talking about dealing with…bias-based policing or use of force and de-escalation, that takes a new policy, training on the policy, proper supervision and annual analysis, so those things take a little more work, but they need to be done,” he said.

As for calls to demilitarize police forces?

“The demilitarization of a police department is a call for a softer community-oriented image of police for police to be more involved with the community,” said Dr. Oliver.

ABC6/FOX28 talked with Columbus Urban League President and CEO Stephanie Hightower about recent proposals from city leaders.

“Their leadership of asking for change really speaks to what is needed across this country for elected officials to take ownership of what the community is requesting,” she said.

She said the Urban League would like to see a focus on economic mobility too, like improving access to small business capital, affordable housing and more moving forward.

by Haley Nelson

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