For Immediate Release: Monday, July 23, 2018
Steve Dettelbach Releases Public Safety Plan to Support Law Enforcement and Protect Victims
Second Installment of Public Safety Plan Outlines Proposals to Protect Ohioans
CLEVELAND — Democratic Candidate for Ohio Attorney General Steve Dettelbach released the second installment of his comprehensive public safety plan; this installment is devoted to proposing specific measures to support law enforcement and protect victims.
Dettelbach spoke on the plan’s importance:
“Supporting law enforcement and protecting victims is not only the right thing to do — it is what keeps Ohioans safe. The state of Ohio cannot continue to expect law enforcement officers to do more and more with less and less. In addition, crime victims, especially children, need our immediate and ongoing support to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks and have the tools they need to heal and move forward.
“Protecting Ohio is the number one job of the Ohio Attorney General — and we need real change in how we support our law enforcement and protect victims in this state to make that occur.
“I’ve spent two decades as a prosecutor working with federal, state and local law enforcement, and county prosecutors to put away violent criminals. I’ve seen the brave men and women in law enforcement across Ohio carry out their duty to protect communities and I’ve seen how critical it is to work with victims, especially kids, to help them get back on their feet and break the cycle of violence. Supporting law enforcement and protecting victims in Ohio means safe communities in Ohio.”
The plan in its entirety can be accessed HERE, and follows below:
1. Allow first responders workers’ comp for on-the-job caused PTSD
Being a police officer or a first responder is different from other jobs. We need to acknowledge that fact. The psychological trauma first responders are exposed to in the line of duty can have devastating effects; first responders have suicide rates more than ten times higher than the general public. Yet when a first responder suffers from PTSD on-the-job, Ohio withholds workers’ compensation benefits unless there is also a physical injury. That policy fails to fully recognize the sacrifices first responders make to keep our families safe. The dangers that first responders face are simply different from most others, and we should recognize that fact. Steve will work to make that fact a legal reality.
2. Increase resources for police training
In 2018, Statehouse politicians gave no funding at all for local police training. That’s absurd. We can’t expect police to do their job if we fail to give them the resources they need. Ohio needs to fulfill its commitment to police and provide them adequate funding for training.
We also need to examine how, and where, we deliver police training, and we need to better seek the input of everyone, including officers themselves, to do it. The challenges facing police are not the same in every community. And our police training should reflect the unique challenges different communities face. As Attorney General, Steve will work with local law enforcement leaders, officers, and community members to ensure that when we train police, we are training them on the skills they actually need to serve their communities.
3. Attract and retain more police by helping law enforcement officials pay for college.
Tuition reimbursement is available to a select few law enforcement officials employed by the state and certain communities. As Attorney General, Steve will work with state and local leaders to identify ways to expand the number of Ohio law enforcement officials with access to tuition assistance. Making higher education more accessible will help police officers who make that choice to develop their skills, lengthen their careers, and enhance their promotability. Ultimately, it will make our communities safer by attracting and retaining police.
4. Get smarter on crime and support police by improving data-sharing
Across the state, police use several different computer databases to store information about the crimes they investigate. But these databases are not all linked with each other, making it harder for police to solve crimes across jurisdictions and to understand trends in criminal behavior. As U.S. Attorney, Steve was a leader in developing data-driven policing models as head of the Northern Ohio Violent Crime Consortium. As Attorney General, Steve is committed to giving law enforcement the tools they need to keep us safe. He will convene a Law Enforcement Technology Task Force, comprised of both law enforcement and IT experts, to identify gaps in Ohio’s criminal- data systems, and to find best practices in data-sharing that police can use across the state. That way, our police will have the 21st Century tools they need to work in concert, quickly gather information, and keep our communities safe.
Protecting Crime Victims
5. Close Ohio’s spousal rape loophole
Shockingly, Ohio is just one of a handful of states that does not outlaw every instance of spousal rape. Ohio law does not outlaw rape by a spouse unless force or the threat of force is used. That leaves a loophole for rapists who use drugs or alcohol to have sex with a non-consenting spouse. It’s time for Ohio to catch up. Rep. Kristin Boggs introduced legislation (HB 561) previously introduced by Greta Johnson to help address this very issue. As Attorney General, Steve will work with the legislature to close this antiquated loophole and outlaw spousal rape in all forms.
6. Keep children of arrested parents from falling through the cracks
When a parent is arrested, Ohio shouldn’t let children fall through the cracks. Steve knows this from his work leading the Defending Childhood initiative as U.S. Attorney. When a child witnesses violence or a parent is arrested, the child needs somewhere safe to go and to be protected. Children of arrested parents and those who witness violence have increased risk for everything from alcoholism and drug abuse to domestic violence and other criminal behavior, and even suicide. Unfortunately, Ohio lacks standard procedures to care for these kids. That leads to an unending cycle of crime. As Attorney General, Steve will work with law enforcement and child- development experts to build on his prior work and create a uniform statewide procedure for protecting children of arrested parents.
7. Cut red tape for crime victims
The current administration has poured salt in the wounds of crime victims by slashing Ohio’s Victims of Crime Compensation Fund by 45%—even for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. This Fund helps crime victims pay for out-of-pocket costs like medical care and counseling. But Attorney General DeWine has slashed victim compensation, even as the number of claims has gone up. Worse yet, overly bureaucratic and unfair technicalities in the Fund have disqualified countless victims. As Attorney General, Steve will reform and improve the Fund to ensure that it better serves its purpose: helping victims of violent crime begin on the road to recovery.
8. Expand access to text-to-911 to save lives
Text-911 programs can save lives in mass shootings, domestic violence incidents, or other emergencies where it isn’t safe to make noise. And increasingly, young people think of texting before they think of calling. Texts to 911 also help those with hearing or speech impairments to safely access emergency services. But right now, only a small portion of the state has access to it. This common-sense, life-saving technology should not be available in only part of the state. As Attorney General, Steve will explore ways to help Ohio catch up to the needs of its citizens and seek to bring text-to-911 to every corner of the state.
9. Ensure every abused child has access to a Child Advocacy Center
Child Advocacy Centers (CAC) are places where a team of specialists—social workers, law enforcement, prosecutors, and healthcare providers—help victims of child abuse in a comprehensive and coordinated manner. The professionals work in concert and communicate across disciples to better meet the needs of the child, reduce trauma, and improve the chances of prosecuting abusers. But these critical Centers are not yet available in all parts of Ohio, leaving abused children in some communities at a disadvantage, and making it harder for police and prosecutors to bring child abusers to justice. As Attorney General, Steve will work with state and local leaders, and find ways to make CACs available in every corner of Ohio, so that every victim of child abuse can get the help they need close to home, and so law enforcement can better prosecute those who prey on children.
10. Toughen Ohio hate crimes laws and outlaw hate crimes against police
As a career prosecutor, Steve understands that hate crimes like murder, assault, and arson don’t just impact the victim—they terrorize entire communities. Ohio has a hate crimes rate more than twice the national average. Even so, Ohio hate crimes law still does not apply to crimes motivated by gender, sexual orientation, or disability. It also fails to address hate crimes targeted at police.
Steve believes nobody is beyond the reach of the law’s protection. As a career prosecutor, Steve prosecuted some of Ohio’s most notorious hate crimes, including a man who burned down a mosque in Toledo, and the attempt to burn down an African American church in Conneaut. As Attorney General, he’ll fight to make Ohio hate crimes law more inclusive so that no Ohioan is targeted for violence because of their gender, sexual orientation, disability, or status as a police officer. He’ll also work to toughen the penalties for such hate crimes, so that those who terrorize communities get the punishment they deserve.
Steve Dettelbach, the Democratic candidate for Ohio Attorney General, is a former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and career federal prosecutor.