Police departments across the nation are finding it difficult to fill vacancies. It seems no one wants to be a police officer right now.
Why? Police officers are human beings, and as such, can make mistakes. Up until five years ago, a mistake might cost us some discipline or even the loss of our job. Today, a mistake — and I do not consider the murder of George Floyd to fall under the definition of a “mistake” — could result in us being charged with a crime and sent to prison.
Part of the cause is that too many politicians in Columbus are hiding under their desks waiting for the current national “anti-police” mood to pass, coming out occasionally to do something that looks like they might be helping. For instance, the Ohio General Assembly is considering changes to Ohio’s “Obstructing Justice” statute and promoting that effort as “supporting law enforcement.”
They’re rearranging lawn chairs on the Titanic. Not only are our “leaders” in Columbus remaining silent at critical times, they are doing things that hurt us. For example, they recently passed legislation making it illegal for us to handcuff pregnant women. Who thinks up this stuff?
I often hear from our citizens asking how they can help police officers in our community. Here is my answer: our elected officials in Columbus need to hear from each of you. I’m asking you to write, email or call our representatives in Columbus every time you read or hear of some ridiculous new suggestion to “reform” the criminal justice system. Let them know how their silence is turning good people — and I do not consider Derek Chauvin “good people”; he is a disgrace to our profession — away from policing.
We might not be able to change the world, but we can change our little corner of it by demanding that our elected representatives in Columbus strongly and vocally push back against ridiculous “reform” proposals that hinder good policing. I fear that if we don’t start speaking up, we will find ourselves without adequate numbers of police officers to protect our communities. By the time our “leaders” in Columbus wake up and smell the coffee, it might just be too late.
Our state elected representatives are:
Ohio House of Representatives: Shane Wilkin, 77 S. High St., 13th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215; (614) 466-3506; www.ohiohouse.gov/shane-wilkin
Ohio Senate: Bob Peterson, Senate Building, 1 Capitol Square, 1st Floor, Columbus, OH 43215; (614) 466-8156.
Scott Reinbolt, A.S., B.S., J.D., is Chief of Police for the Village of Blanchester.