CLINTON COUNTY — Local law enforcement agencies are doing their part to actively meet and exceed standards from a state effort.
The Clinton County Sheriff’s Office and Wilmington Police Department are among the many law enforcement agencies in the state to take part in the 2021 Ohio Collaborative Law Enforcement Certification Report.
Col. Brian Prickett of the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office described the Collaborative as “an effort to keep agencies more professional and more accountable” in certain areas.
In an intro letter written by Karen Huey, assistant director of Ohio Department of Public Safety and board chair, she states, “This report represents the annual culmination of collaborative efforts made by law enforcement, community members, and other criminal justice stakeholders. As this past year highlights, there is no more important relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”
The Collaborative was created by executive order in 2015 after the Governor’s Task Force on Community-Police Relations produced a report with recommendations on how to improve the important relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
According to the report, the Collaborative comprises “a multidisciplinary group of Ohioans that include law enforcement, community members, elected officials, academia, and the faith-based community.”
Other members of the board include Ohio Civil Rights Commission Chair Lori Barreras, former Mayor of Toledo and fire chief Michael Bell, State Rep. Juanita Brent, University of Cincinnati professor Dr. Robin S. Engel, Dublin Police Chief Justin Paez, Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck, and Rev. Walter S. Moss, the project manager of Community Initiative to Reduce Violence.
The Collaborative was charged with creating “uniform minimum standards” for all Ohio law enforcement agencies regarding the use of force, hiring, and recruitment.
Prickett said one of the first standards they worked on was the use of force or deadly force.
“We already had good policies. Basically, everything you had to do in policy to make sure they’re trained, how you train, and how you track use of force,” said Prickett.
One aspect of this is that it gives agencies definitions of what constitutes a use of force or not.
“Does it mean grabbing your hand and then handcuffing you? Or pressure point move? Basically, if it’s a normal handcuffing, that doesn’t count. But at the point we have to go hands-on to forcefully put your hands behind your back, if we pull a Taser — even if we don’t fire it, or a firearm, we consider that a use of force,” he said.
Another standard is for the use of body cameras. Prickett told the News Journal the CCSO waived the wearing body cams.
“There’s a lot from a public records aspect. So, if you made a public records request for body-worn cameras, we have to go in and review every single tape, edit out certain things based on public records laws, and censor out the faces of innocent parties,” he said, also citing the costs around it.
Among the other categories, the Collaborative wrote standards for recruitment and hiring, community engagement, telecommunications, bias-free policing, vehicular pursuit, and employee misconduct.
Wilmington Police Chief Ron Cravens advised they get their policies from the Lexipol Knowledge Management System which sends them updates on any new policies or standards. This “checks a lot of boxes” for keeping up with the Collaborative.
Both local agencies praise the Collaborative as a way to keep them up to date on policies and trends in law enforcement. To Prickett, this can help strengthen the relationship and trust with the community.
“I think it’s a good program. It allows law enforcement agencies to really dive into what they’re doing, make sure they’re ahead of the game, and make sure we’re doing our job right. It’s an accountability process,” said Prickett.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574