- Associated Press - Sunday, December 21, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A group formed by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will recommend changes to the way Ohio trains officers after several fatal police-involved shootings that sparked protests in the state and across the country.

DeWine wants the 16-member task force to focus especially on training for use-of-force situations and for officers dealing with racially diverse populations in their communities. He also singled out determining whether Ohio officers are trained well enough in recognizing when they are dealing with an active shooter.

“Are peace officer candidates getting enough hands-on, in-the-field training? Are students being tested for the right set of skills?” DeWine asked the group, the Attorney General Advisory Group on Law Enforcement Training, at its first meeting Thursday.

“Are the 66 police academies across Ohio doing a good enough job training officers? How do we know?” he said. “Is there consistency in training among the academies?”

Two recent fatal police shootings in Ohio started with reports of people with guns: the death last month of a 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun in Cleveland and a 22-year-old man carrying an air rifle this summer in a suburban Dayton Wal-Mart. Both cases involved white officers shooting blacks.

The announcement of the panel came two days before a man with Ohio connections fatally shot two New York City police officers after vowing in online posts to kill cops - and invoking the police-involved deaths of a New York man and an 18-year-old from Ferguson, Missouri.

In his opening remarks, DeWine laid out the basics of police training in Ohio. A look at how it’s done:

- Training is overseen by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission, a nine-member group appointed by the governor and consisting of a public representative, two sheriffs, two police chiefs, one state criminal investigator, a state highway patrol officer, an FBI agent and a state Education Department official.

-The commission determines topics for police officer training in Ohio and sets the minimum hours - currently 605 - of basic training to become certified.

- The commission and the attorney general oversee the state’s police training academies in London in central Ohio and Richfield in northeastern Ohio, which provide advanced training for already certified officers.

- The commission certifies 66 police training academies in Ohio that provide basic training, ranging from community colleges to major city police departments - such as Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland - and the state patrol.

-The commission establishes minimum qualifications for academy instructors.

Group member Vincent Peterson is pastor of a church in Akron and a long-time probation officer in Trumbull County, perspectives he hopes will help him see all sides.

“It has nothing to do with race, it has nothing to do with law enforcement as to what’s right,” said Peterson, who is black. “Right stands by itself.”


Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.

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