On Tuesday, the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association became the second statewide police union to endorse Democratic candidate Rich Cordray for governor. It's a major about-face: The union endorsed Republican Mike DeWine in the 2014 attorney general race.
“Last election, as Rich had mentioned, the OPBA endorsed Mike DeWine for attorney general,” said OPBA chief of staff Daniel Leffler at a press conference. “However, we believe that this year that Richard Cordray is the clear choice for governor for the State of Ohio.”
Cordray says DeWine has failed to take care of Ohio's law enforcement, noting in particular a complaint over outdated body armor.
“As attorney general, DeWine put the lives of these (criminal investigation) agents under his command in danger by repeatedly sending them into the field with expired bulletproof vests,” Cordray said.
DeWine ordered new vests for law enforcement in August. He said he was unaware of the expired vests until he received a union grievance.
DeWine announced the state’s injured worker fund is setting aside a portion of its safety grant funding to help local police agencies pay for bulletproof vests. The program will make up to $40,000 available to a local law enforcement agency.
At Tuesday's press conference, Cordray also attacked DeWine's response to the opioid crisis.
"Over eight years as Ohio's top cop, DeWine has had ample opportunity to address the opioid epidemic, and he has failed at every turn," Cordray said. "If this problem had been contained as it was when I was attorney general, 10,000 more Ohioans would be alive today."
The union joins the larger Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio in endorsing Cordray.
DeWine and Cordray will face off in their first gubernatorial debate at the University of Dayton Wednesday, September 19. The general election is November 6.