Earlier this month in a NEWS9 Special Assignment, we reported about the Ohio Collaborative. It's a statewide board formed to help improve police/community relations.
Many of its policies deal specifically with communities of color and hiring more minority police officers.
But, as it stands, not many police departments in the Ohio Valley are certified. One reason? It's not mandatory.
In fact, it would take action from the state legislature to make it so. We spoke with 95th District Representative Don Jones about the issue.
RP: Why isn't certification for the Ohio Collaborative mandatory?
DJ: Well, the reason we didn't make it mandatory, there's no money to go with it. It's a great program, it's one that'll benefit a lot of communities. But, quite frankly, one of the problems we have when we make things mandatory from the state level is where is the money coming from and who is going to pay for that. Great program, just no money to support it.
RP: Why isn't there funding for something like this to be mandatory? Do you know how much it might cost and where the state could get that money?
DJ: I've asked the question about body cams. I've heard anywhere from $250 to $700 per body camera. We can go back to the Kasich administration era. There were a lot of cuts to local governments back then. Let's face it, they've never really been restored. And this budget cycle is going to be tough, as well. We don't have as many revenues coming in as we've had in the past.
Rich, I think, to answer your question, we're going to start probably seeing these types of programs become mandatory with dollars attached. Will it be the full amount? I can't answer that.
RP: We were talking with Steubenville NAACP President Mike McIntyre about this and he told us he thinks this program is a step in the right direction. But without it being mandatory, without the teeth attached to it, it's just a step, maybe one that's always been there. So, what do you tell communities of color, other communities that feel disenfranchised, people that feel like the police don't always have their best interest at heart, places where this relationship needs fixed?
DJ: Every community is different, Rich. He's right. It's a step in the right direction. So many times, we have programs thought to be a great program, but that's all the further they go. I experienced this as a teacher. With law enforcement it's different. We have to make sure if they are a person of color or not a person of color that they have the same protections as everyone else.