CLEVELAND — Today, State Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) honors what would have been Cleveland native Tamir Rice’s 18th birthday. This year marks the sixth anniversary of his death at the hands of law enforcement officers as he played with a toy. As a victim of police violence, Tamir has become a symbol of injustice and the need for police reform.
“Tamir should be here to celebrate his 18th birthday. In the six years since his passing, we still lack police reform to prevent this from happening to someone else’s son,” Rep. Brent said. “We, as the General Assembly, must take action and not just remember. Police officer training is insufficient when it comes to dealing with noncriminal behavior. There has to be a focus on de-escalation, implicit bias, racial equity and cultural competence training that is utilized when interacting with the public.”
Rep. Brent is currently working on police reform legislation that will reallocate some funds from law enforcement departments for behavioral health specialists. These behavior health specialists would pair up with police officers to form a co-response team when mental health crises are reported. This approach has seen success in multiple states already. Brent is also a cosponsor for multiple bills that will demilitarize local law enforcement agencies, mandate visible identification of officers, criminalize the use of the chokehold, and require the use of force databases to track terminations, resignations, and previous use of deadly force.