By Julie Carr Smyth and Farnoush Amiri, Associated Press
DeWine also is creating a new state office to recruit more black and female officers.
His efforts follow the death of George Floyd at the hands of police that set off massive protests against racism and police brutality across the state, nation and world.
The Republican governor said he was using his executive power to take immediate action to address concerns raised by Floyd’s death and would also work with the Legislature on enacting changes that have previously met resistance.
“We’ll get some things done,” he pledged. He urged all Ohioans to support his push by lobbying their local elected officials to get their police and sheriff’s departments to adopt the best practices in the use-of-force, training and other areas.
DeWine, a former attorney general, said he does not agree with protesters who want to defund the police, however.
“That would be absurd,” he said. “I can’t imagine what people are thinking.”
Protesters have seized on the death of a recent Ohio State University graduate in pushing back against excessive force by police, though how the woman died remains undetermined.
Sarah Grossman, 22, of Dayton, died May 30 after participating in Columbus demonstrations over Floyd’s death. An early theory that tear gas or pepper spray used during those confrontations prompted or contributed to Grossman’s death went viral under the hashtag #forsarah, though her family has said that is premature.
“Autopsy and toxicology reports are not complete and there is no evidence at this time that pepper spray caused her death,“ read a statement from Grossman’s family. It added that there was no evidence of a drug overdose and that Grossman did not have a peanut allergy or asthma.
Grossman apparently returned home to Dayton after the protest. Columbus police have no record of an EMT transport. The Montgomery County coroner said she died at Sycamore Hospital, near Dayton. An autopsy will take about eight weeks.
Columbus is looking into what happened. An online petition seeks charges against city police officers.
Grossman, who was white, graduated from Ohio State University on May 3 with a bachelor of science in environmental and natural resources.
Also Tuesday, a resolution to declare racism an issue of public health reached the Ohio Senate, where it has bipartisan support.
The first hearing to reexamine the effect of racial inequity on the health of Ohioans was held a week after Democratic lawmakers introduced a similar resolution in the House. The measure details health disparities between white and black Ohio residents in areas including infant mortality and maternal mortality.
“Today is an opportunity for us to discuss an issue that has been at the forefront of our mind and across America,” Democratic Sen. Sandra Williams, of Cleveland, one of the bill’s cosponsors. “This issue is racism.”
If passed, Ohio would become the first state to declare racism a public health crisis.
Amiri reported from New York. Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
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Source: The Village Reporter