Photo: Chuck Hamlin/Staff
Photo: Chuck Hamlin/Staff

Task force formed in wake of Walmart shooting to make recommendations

Both task forces — one appointed by Gov. John Kasich and the other by Attorney General Mike DeWine — are expected to recommend changes on how peace officers are trained in Ohio.

Former state prisons director Reginald Wilkinson, who is leading the DeWine task force on law enforcement training, said the group will recommend upgrading training standards, addressing shortcomings of some open police academies with poor track records, and establishing annual trainings that deal with mental health, diversity and issues.

A spokeswoman for DeWine’s office said the task force report is expected to be released this month.

Former state senator Nina Turner is co-chairing the Kasich task force on police-community relations, which is scheduled to deliver its report by April 30.

Turner said the Kasich task force will likely recommend more funding for law enforcement training in biases and for robust recruitment of women and minorities into the police ranks. It may also recommend a data collection and reporting system for officer-involved shootings, she said. There is no central clearinghouse that tracks such information in Ohio or nationwide.

On Aug. 5, Crawford, 22, was talking on his cell phone, carrying a realistic looking air rifle he had picked up off the store shelf as he wandered the Walmart aisles. Another shopper, Ronald Ritchie, called 9-1-1 and reported that a man was waving a gun inside the Walmart. Beavercreek Police Officer Sean Williams fatally shot Crawford inside the store.

Another Walmart shopper, Angela Williams, 37, of Fairborn, also died that night after suffering cardiac arrest as a consequence of heart disease.

Less than four months later, Cleveland police shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing in a park with a realistic-looking air gun.

In both the Rice and Crawford shootings, the victims were African-Americans and the officers were white. Both the Rice and Crawford families have filed lawsuits.

The Ohio cases came shortly after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the death of Eric Garner in New York at police officers’ hands.

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