COLUMBUS – State Representatives Joe Miller (D-Amherst), Thomas West (D-Canton) and Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland) have introduced two related bills that would tackle key issues surrounding police departments in Ohio. The legislation would ultimately allow the chief of police of a municipal corporation to conduct training schools for prospective law enforcement officers. The goal is to create a new unclassified position called “cadets” within the police department, allow for exceptional appointment of candidates with ideal qualifications and resolve any issues regarding lateral transfers within statutory cities.
For many statutory cities, including Lorain, one of the main problems police departments face is a lack of diversity and retention within the department. A cadet program would allow for police departments to recruit high school students who have lived in and are representative of the community in which they will eventually swear an oath to protect and serve. Additionally, by permitting exceptional appointments for these cadets, cities would be able to retain the cadet officers that they have invested resources, time, and training. The Cincinnati Police Department has already implemented a similar cadet program within their own city.
“This legislation identifies statutory cities who are often placed at a disadvantage when it comes to transfers within police departments. We have an opportunity to close gaps and inequities, and make minor changes that will have major impacts. We want to increase diversity within police departments and help make them more representative of the community they serve,” said Rep. Miller. “Currently, the average amount of training that departments are required to go through in the State is around 4o hours per year. However, Chief McCann of the Lorain Police Department has required his department to undergo 90 hours per year. This legislation would help provide and retain better trained officers who are from the communities they will protect, and also create better ties between our schools and our peace officers.”
“Allowing statutory cities like Canton and Lorain to retain more of the officers they’ve trained is critical to building a police force that is trusted by and that works for the community,” said Rep. West. “Cadet programs will also provide additional training to ensure that prospective officers are prepared to serve and protect each and every resident of our communities.”
“There is a need for diversity in police departments and for communities to be served by representatives of their community— this legislation addresses that need. Police departments have an oath to protect the community,” added Rep. Upchurch. “We believe this is an opportunity to create better relationships between police departments and communities, especially in communities where there is an underrepresentation of minorities serving in police departments.”