Local police pilot new accreditation program created by DeWine order

Dayton, Springfield and Fairborn are among 10 agencies in pilot program

Credit: Avery Kreemer

Credit: Avery Kreemer

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Three local police departments are among the first to participate in the state’s brand new law enforcement accreditation program signed into law Thursday by Gov. Mike DeWine.

The voluntary program, which will judge police departments on their adherence to 31 best-practice standards, will be free for each of the over 900 police departments in the state — a facet of the new program that DeWine said sets Ohio apart from other states.

Dayton, Springfield and Fairborn are among the first 10 departments to strive for the accreditation, which will see their departments judged on policies ranging from use of force, hiring standards, professional conduct, bias-free policing, crisis intervention, community engagement, and more.

“Simply put, agencies that voluntarily work to earn accreditation in Ohio would be recognized as being among the best of the best,” DeWine said.

Leaders from each local department said they’ll be looking at areas of their own policies to update in order to achieve accreditation. The first batch of accreditation is expected at the end of the year.

DeWine noted that there’s been a growing demand for Ohio to start its own program.

“Many law enforcement agencies have asked for this program because they want their communities to rest assured that they’re being served by a police force with strong virtues and integrity,” DeWine said.

Other law enforcement officials noted that, aside from community peace of mind, accreditation can help attract recruits and build culture within a department.

Dayton Police Chief Kamran Afzal told this news organization that the state’s accreditation can serve as proof that police departments are walking the walk.

“It’s not only having standards, but actually producing proof that you met those standards,” Azfal said. “If you say you’re going to do bias-free policing — you can have policy, but how are you meeting that?”

Promoting uniformity was a central theme throughout DeWine’s comments. The state is limited in its ability to set local departments’ policies, but hopes that creating this program and making it free will eventually create firm “statewide standards” that are eventually met by all, or nearly all, agencies in the state.

“I think any police department that has not — you know, over the next couple years — engaged in this, 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 new standards?’” DeWine said.

There are national accreditation programs, like the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Academies, but that route has largely been too pricey a venture for many Ohio agencies to actually obtain.

Springfield Police Chief Allison Elliott and Fairborn Police Chief Ben Roman told this news agency that their departments have been unable to devote resources to get accreditation before and are excited to move forward with Ohio’s new option.

“I think this is a great opportunity. It helps to keep everybody accountable, it keeps law enforcement accountable and allows us to be transparent, and that’s what our community deserves,” Elliott said.

It’s not clear how much money the accreditation program will cost the state, but “it’s a relatively small amount of money,” said DeWine, “if you look at the consequences of not having these standards.”

DeWine noted that, in addition to setting uniform standards, he hopes to work with the General Assembly to raise the bar for training, because “we do not have the uniformity of training in the state of Ohio today.”

Follow DDN statehouse reporter Avery Kreemer on X or reach out to him at Avery.Kreemer@coxinc.com or at 614-981-1422.

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