Ohio Board Developing Statewide Law Enforcement Standards For Protests

Sep 23, 2020

An Ohio board is developing a statewide standard for police departments to follow when dealing with mass protests.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine called for the standard after protests broke out across the state in early summer following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police.

"Let me be clear: when protests morph from peaceful to violent, law enforcement must be empowered to act," DeWine said in June. "We are not looking to give a small number of violent protestors a free pass – far from it. What we do want, though, is for peaceful demonstrators to feel safe when asserting their First Amendment rights, and for the public to be protected against violence and destruction of their property."

Karhlton Moore, director of the state’s Office of Criminal Justice Services, says the standard can help departments that had never dealt with such protests before, but is also meant to assist bigger agencies in reviewing their tactics.

DeWine wanted the board to determine when measures like tear gas, pepper spray or non-lethal projectiles are necessary, what tactics are best for crowds that fail to disperse, how law enforcement can protect members of the media from being injured, and when tactics become excessive for certain situations.

Activists in Columbus and other cities have criticized the confrontational response to mostly non-violent crowds, while police say that protesters blocked traffic and attacked officers. The protests spurred local governments across the state, including Columbus City Council, to consider reform measures such as limits on use of force, demilitarization of departments and independent reviews of civilian complaints.

The Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board previously created standards for use of deadly force, recruiting and retention, body cameras, among others.