Commission explores big increase in advanced police training

FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 file photo, Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth addresses the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission at the beginning of a special meeting in London, Ohio. Ohio’s statewide police commission is exploring the feasibility of a dramatic increase in the amount of advanced training law enforcement officers receive. The commission directed state police training academy officials on Thursday, May 28, 2015 to look at 40 hours of training for officers, including eight on use of force and eight on community policing. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 file photo, Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth addresses the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission at the beginning of a special meeting in London, Ohio. Ohio’s statewide police commission is exploring the feasibility of a dramatic increase in the amount of advanced training law enforcement officers receive. The commission directed state police training academy officials on Thursday, May 28, 2015 to look at 40 hours of training for officers, including eight on use of force and eight on community policing. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Advanced training for Ohio police officers would rise dramatically and would include classes on use of force and community policing, under a preliminary proposal adopted by the statewide police commission Thursday.

The Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission directed its staff to explore the feasibility of raising the current training requirement from four hours annually to 40. An initial proposal suggests eight hours on use of force and eight hours on community and police relations, with topics for the remaining 24 hours chosen by local departments.

The proposal is far from a reality. The higher training time will require legislative action since the cost would exceed the budgets of most local departments. Mary Davis, the training commission’s executive director, has estimated it would cost $28 million a year just to reimbursement departments for the time their officers are being trained.

Ohio ranks in the bottom third of states when it comes to advanced training for police officers. Kentucky, by contrast, requires 40 hours annually; Indiana, 24; West Virginia, 16; and Pennsylvania, 12.

The training commission also took steps to create evaluation systems for training academy instructors. Ohio has between 60 and 70 training academies, depending on which currently offer classes.

The proposals follow recommendations from task forces convened by Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine to examine training and community-police relations after several fatal police shootings and protests in Ohio and nationally.

In response to recommendations from those panels, Kasich created a board to oversee departments’ use of force. DeWine is pushing increased training hours.

Earlier this month, the training commission said Ohio police officers must have high school degrees or their equivalent, and lifted a cap on the amount of training required to become an officer.

Also Thursday, the commission took steps to make the order of topics taught at Ohio’s training academies more uniform. Currently, academies can teach topics in whatever order they want based on the availability of instructors. That means a class in how to control a subject could come before learning what force is legal in such situations.

The commission also directed its staff to research the feasibility of adding annual requalification training on use of force to the current firearms requalification training.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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