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State Task Force On Community, Police Relations Visits Central State

Wayne Baker

A state task force formed by Gov. John Kasich in December to help make the relationship between police and the communities they serve better, held its second meeting last night at Central State University.  The governor assembled the 24-person committee by Executive Order after several police-involved shootings around the country and in Ohio.

More than a dozen people testified before the committee on a range of issues, including racial profiling, police involved shootings and better training for law enforcement personnel.

Members of the Ohio Student Association and NAACP brought up the deaths of 22-year-old John Crawford III in Beavercreek and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland. One member of the audience questioned why the 911 caller in the Crawford case, Ronald Ritchie, who provided incorrect information, isn't in trouble with the law.

"If you call 911 and you complain about Chicken McNuggets that you didn't get at McDonald's, you get punished. If you call out and say 'fire' in a theater and then people flee and die from a heart attack, then you are going to be punished," he said. "If you call in a say this man is ready to shoot people and nothing is happening and this man gets shot then you have to pay the price."

Task force co-chair, Nina Turner, told the audience that participation from every concerned citizen will be a vital part in helping the panel do its job.

Credit Wayne Baker
Prof. Vernellia Randall spoke during the community forum at Central State University.

"Somebody once said 'don't let what you can't do, get in the way of what you can do.' And what we can do tonight is have influence. Folks have traveled all over the state of Ohio to be here at CSU tonight to hear from you," she said. "And the reason why we are not necessarily answering questions is because we want to hear what you have to say about the issues that impact you in terms of the community and the police. We will take back your concerns, write up a report to give those concerns and recommendations to the governor, to the president of the senate and to the speaker of the house. The intention is to get something done."

The next scheduled forum will be held on Feb. 26 at the University of Toledo, and then the task force will travel to the University of Cincinnati on March 9.