State Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) Wednesday sent a letter to Department of Public Safety Director Colonel John Born following incidents of profiling among Capitol Square’s State Highway Patrol security personnel. Sykes and other black women lawmakers have routinely been subjected to additional security measures when entering the Ohio Statehouse and other government office buildings. Heightened security protocols were instituted in 2015.
“My hope is that this action will initiate changes that will keep myself and others from experiencing unequal treatment and extra scrutiny based on our gender or skin color, while also ensuring safety in the buildings that you are responsible for securing,” said Sykes. “No matter our race or gender, we belong here.”
Sykes previously filed a formal complaint to the Ohio House Sergeant-At-Arms in February 2016 after an incident of profiling by Statehouse security. The Akron lawmaker was told then that the officer broke protocol and that the situation would be resolved. Sykes never received further communication on the incident as access problems continued.
Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Public Safety have yet to identify any new protocols to reduce bias and increase access, though some lawmakers have called for anti-bias training for Ohio State Highway Patrol.
*Editor’s note: Attached are Copies of Sykes’ letter to Director Born and email to the house Sergeant-At-Arms.