Ohio rolls out a statewide program to accredit police forces

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Ohio will pilot a new best-practices accreditation program for police agencies, and it will also bear the cost, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday afternoon.

Flashing lights of the police car into the checkpoint in the city
Flashing lights of the police car into the checkpoint in the city. [ChiccoDodiFC |]
The Ohio Collaborative Law Enforcement Accreditation Program will eventually roll out to the nearly 900 forces around the state. DeWine established it through an executive order, building on a certification program first introduced by former Gov. John Kasich. Two-thirds of Ohio’s policing bodies are certified through that, DeWine said.

Ten agencies are part of the pilot, which will run through the end of the year. They include a mix of larger bodies, like Ohio State Highway Patrol, and smaller ones.

“The Pro Football Hall of Fame, they honor the excellence of the game of football,” Stark County Sheriff George Maier said. “This will honor the excellence of law enforcement in Stark County and across the state of Ohio.”

To get recognized, agencies will need to meet or exceed 31 gold standards. Among them are standards for use of force, hiring and recruitment, professional conduct, bias-free policing and community engagement.

“Ohio’s a home rule state,” DeWine said. “We’re not going to force agencies to earn accreditation.”

It’s not mandatory, DeWine said, but once it is in full swing it will be heavily encouraged.

“Their public has the right to say ‘why not? Why aren’t you following this process? Why aren’t you certifying to us that you do, in fact, follow these standards?’” DeWine said.