Local Law Enforcement: Protect Local Communities’ Ability to Fight Crime

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgLU9IYTQUU

To make Ohio safe, the Attorney General’s Office must ensure that local law enforcement agencies have the tools they need to crack down on crime. As a former Cincinnati City Councilman and Hamilton County Commissioner, Pepper will fight for policies that put an emphasis on empowering local police departments and sheriffs across Ohio. Pepper will build strong relationships based on respect and collaboration to effectively address crime in Ohio.

Mike DeWine Has Repeatedly Failed to Stand Up for Local Law Enforcement Since DeWine was elected in 2010, Republicans have cut the state’s local government funding by 32%. Many of these cuts fell on the back of local police departments and county sheriffs, diverting away hundreds of millions of dollars those departments depend on to protect Ohioans.[1]

Despite being Ohio’s chief legal officer, DeWine has refused to advocate publicly on behalf of local law enforcement. DeWine never spoke against funding cuts to Ohio’s counties, cities, and towns, and he publicly defended Senate Bill 5 in 2011. Since then, he has diverted dollars meant for local government to his own budget, and he has adopted a posture of competing with local law enforcement as opposed to working in partnership.

The Pepper Plan: Empower Ohio’s Local Law Enforcement Agencies Through Collaboration and Support

Collaboration: LLE Roundtable/Liaison in the Office –Pepper will select a standing panel of local law enforcement leaders and officers with whom he will meet with on a regular basis to build a true partnership and dialogue. He will also appoint an experienced local law enforcement official to serve as a senior adviser in his cabinet. This adviser will serve as a liaison to local communities and will give sheriffs and local police departments across the state a direct line into the Attorney General’s Office. This will also ensure that the perspective of law enforcement is taken into account as policy initiatives are crafted. Pepper will never undermine local officials by failing to include them in important policy deliberations. Supporting Local Law Enforcement:

  • Restoring a Crime Lab Partnership —With devastating cuts to local government funds, Ohio’s network of local crime labs has been dramatically eroded. In prior administrations, the Attorney General worked in cooperation with local labs as part of a network to serve local law enforcement. Under Attorney General DeWine, we’ve seen a turf war—with the state approaching the relationship as a competition as opposed to collaboration, aggressively seeking out the “clients”of local labs, refusing to share work or resources, and in some cases, trying to shut down local labs through closed-door meetings. Over the last three years, costs at the state lab have skyrocketed and the lab has remained incredibly inefficient—costing more than twice as much per case handled as the local labs.
  • Pepper believes that our communities are safer if we view all the labs of the state as a network—the stronger each lab, the stronger the entire network. Pepper plans to restart the partnership with local labs, sharing work, resources and strengths as opposed to engaging in a needless competition. This collaborative approach will save taxpayer dollars, and deliver more timely, higher quality results to agencies who rely on this critical work. Pepper will start this collaboration by divvying up the ever growing backlog of untested rape kits among Ohio’s local crime labs.
  • Data Sharing and Crime Analysis — One of the most valuable ways the Attorney General can help local law enforcement is providing cutting edge crime analysis and data sharing when it comes to tracking real-time crime trends in the state. The incredibly late and antiquated way in which the Attorney General determined that Ohio faced a heroin crisis is a wake-up call about how far behind the office is in providing useful intelligence and analysis of what is happening across the state. Pepper will work with state and local agencies to coordinate and upgrade the sharing of key crime data throughout Ohio.
  • Cutting Edge Technology — The Attorney General is struggling to keep up with the demands of modern technology. There are reported cases where it has taken many months, or more than a year, to process basic computer/digital evidence, posing a risk to crime victims and active investigations, and adding needless delays to prosecutions. Other agencies are able to turn around similar evidence in weeks or a few months. Pepper will conduct a technology review of the Attorney General’s ability to process computer and cyber evidence to greatly speed up turnaround times in this critical area.
  • An 88-County Commitment: Special Prosecution —The Attorney General’s Office provides Special Prosecution support around the state, but does not do so in a strategic way. Pepper will add special prosecution support in those areas where it is most helpful—human trafficking, heroin dealing, public corruption, violence against women, and other priorities. Doing so will ensure that key state safety priorities are consistently enforced in all 88 counties.
  • Ensure Training is Relevant and Available – The Attorney General’s Office is responsible for setting standards for training for law enforcement across the state. Pepper will work with local sheriffs and police departments to ensure that the available training is relevant to the challenges faced by officers and deputies in the field. Pepper will also work to ensure training is available on schedules that best accommodate local departments. He will also ensure that casino dollars are spent on local training, consistent with the original intent of the funds.
  • Protect Funding Dedicated for Law Enforcement – Pepper will fight to protect funding dedicated to local law enforcement. The Attorney General should not allow money promised to local agencies, such as funds generated from Ohio’s casinos, to be redirected to state agencies. Funds promised to local communities should flow directly to the local agencies that know best how to use them. Pepper will also call for restoration of funds cut from local police and sheriffs from the Local Government Fund.
  • Stand Up For Public Safety Collective Bargaining Rights – As Attorney General, Pepper will be a forceful advocate for fair labor practices with regard to the state’s police, fire, and EMT officials. Pepper spoke out loudly against SB5, and he will never stand silently by in the face of shameful attacks on first responders by anyone in or out of state government.

[1] “Local Sheriff Criticizes State Funding, Highway Patrol” Dayton Daily News, 1/3/14