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Ohio Police-Community Relations Task Force Holds First Meeting In Cleveland

Akron Sgt. From left, Brian Armstead, former U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes and former State Sen. Nina Turner.
Nick Castele
/
WCPN
Akron Sgt. From left, Brian Armstead, former U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes and former State Sen. Nina Turner.

A state task force on police-community relations that includes lawmakers, pastors and police held its first meeting Tuesday night in Cleveland.

Out of an audience of dozens, about 20 people testified – some shared stories about treatment by police. Others recommended collecting data on racial profiling in Ohio, training officers to respond to people with mental illness, and setting up an independent panel to review police shootings. Many speakers urged the task force to consider race in its final proposals.

Akron Police Sgt. Brian Armstead, a task force member, asked the audience to support putting enough money toward making these proposals happen.

“One of the common denominators that I heard from the recommendations seemed to be training, knowledge,” said Armstead. “Let’s make our police officers better equipped. I’m sure the community is going to hold our feet to the fire on that. All of those things are going to require funding.”

State Rep. Alicia Reece, a Democrat from Cincinnati, is a task force member and heads the legislative black caucus. She says action could take several paths, including law or executive orders.

“Could be something the attorney general could get done right now,” said Reece. “Could be something the governor could implement right now. Could be something the General Assembly could see passing.”

The group also heard from U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach, who outlined the Justice Department’s findings that Cleveland police too often used excessive force. The task force is slated to deliver a report to the governor by the end of April.