Tough conversations ahead on policing, race

Donald Domineck of the New Black Panther Party speaks at a protest in front of the Dayton Federal Building on West Second Street Saturday morning to protest the recent and ongoing killings of Black men by police. Seated next to him is Bishop Richard Cox of Parenthood Ministries and Chad White Sr. of The Word Church is on the far right. About 25 people attended the protest, which was organized by the Better Dayton Coalition. Eileen McClory / Staff
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Donald Domineck of the New Black Panther Party speaks at a protest in front of the Dayton Federal Building on West Second Street Saturday morning to protest the recent and ongoing killings of Black men by police. Seated next to him is Bishop Richard Cox of Parenthood Ministries and Chad White Sr. of The Word Church is on the far right. About 25 people attended the protest, which was organized by the Better Dayton Coalition. Eileen McClory / Staff

Local community leaders want to move forward in the wake of a guilty verdict last week for the Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd last summer, but many differ on how that happens.

Many activists called the verdict a small step toward accountability, and support sweeping reforms or an overhaul of the criminal justice system.

Some area law enforcement leaders say dialogue about race relations and police reform are important, while some say the Chauvin verdict proves the system works and lamented false narratives around policing.

Law enforcement and activists agree the country and our local community are in a state of turmoil.

The Journal-News asked some local leaders about what comes next, including those in criminal justice, activism, faith, education and mental health, posing to them this question: “After the Chauvin verdict, where does our community go from here?”

Here are their responses, which have been edited for length.

Wendy Waters-Connell, executive director of YWCA Hamilton

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Wendy Waters-Connell, executive director of Hamilton YWCA, speaks during a peaceful prayer vigil Sunday, June 7 at Bailey Square in Hamilton. Over 100 people attended the event that was part of a nationwide surge of rallies over the May 25 death of George Floyd while he was being arrested by Minneapolis police. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Wendy Waters-Connell, executive director of Hamilton YWCA, speaks during a peaceful prayer vigil Sunday, June 7 at Bailey Square in Hamilton. Over 100 people attended the event that was part of a nationwide surge of rallies over the May 25 death of George Floyd while he was being arrested by Minneapolis police. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Wendy Waters-Connell, executive director of Hamilton YWCA, speaks during a peaceful prayer vigil Sunday, June 7 at Bailey Square in Hamilton. Over 100 people attended the event that was part of a nationwide surge of rallies over the May 25 death of George Floyd while he was being arrested by Minneapolis police. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The verdict offers a moment of respite, yet we know that much more needs to be done to heal our communities. Our hearts and prayers remain with the family of George Floyd as they continue to grieve the loss. With that said, the YWCA Hamilton has an excellent relationship with the Hamilton Police Department, and we want our local community to know how much we count on them to keep our families and staff safe in our domestic violence shelter. These issues are complex and we are leaning in to them boldly in an effort to strengthen our community.

We are in the midst of a racial reckoning and we must move toward healing. This will require a cross section of engaged citizens, private and public agencies in health care/education/law enforcement, community faith leaders, and civic officials to bridge the gaps in equity through policy, resources and cultural change.

All of us must acknowledge the disparities in communities of color from infant mortality, pandemic death rates and vaccine rates, to needless and tragic deaths. YWCA Hamilton stands against racism and hate in all its forms. We will continue to get up and do the work until racism is eliminated. We will join arm in arm with others who seek racial healing in our community.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones

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Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones says the images of rioters breaking into the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday was "insane" and also disturbing because their unlawful actions were preventable. Jones says Capitol Police and Washington D.C. law enforcement should have been prepared for the possibility of riots. (File Photo\Journal-News)

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones says the images of rioters breaking into the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday was "insane" and also disturbing because their unlawful actions were preventable. Jones says Capitol Police and Washington D.C. law enforcement should have been prepared for the possibility of riots. (File Photo\Journal-News)
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Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones says the images of rioters breaking into the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday was "insane" and also disturbing because their unlawful actions were preventable. Jones says Capitol Police and Washington D.C. law enforcement should have been prepared for the possibility of riots. (File Photo\Journal-News)

I wish I knew the answer. It’s so divided right now. It’s even divided by different groups of people, different politicians. I was asked the other day, how would you fix it and I would say with kids that are in school. ... some kids are scared of the police. Some don’t respect the police.

The Republican party, the Democratic party, everybody’s got sides they’ve chosen. And I think the police are in the middle and (they have) no support; they’re all being thrown under the bus.

It’d be nice if we had a leader that could bring people together and come up with some solutions, but I don’t know who that is.

(Often) times when there’s a shooting, it’s at times blown out of proportion or it’s not what it seems to be, and police are taking the brunt of that.

I admit I have no idea how to fix this, but shouting and screaming and setting buildings on fire or injuring people is not the way.

ExploreDayton police reform groups finish up. What’s next?

Patrick Oliver, director of the criminal justice program at Cedarville University; former police chief in Fairborn, Grandview Heights and Cleveland

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Dr. Patrick Oliver is the director of the criminal justice program at Cedarville University and the former chief of police in the cities of Fairborn, Grandview Heights, and Cleveland

Dr. Patrick Oliver is the director of the criminal justice program at Cedarville University and the former chief of police in the cities of Fairborn, Grandview Heights, and Cleveland
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Dr. Patrick Oliver is the director of the criminal justice program at Cedarville University and the former chief of police in the cities of Fairborn, Grandview Heights, and Cleveland

In the wake of multiple high-profile law enforcement critical incidents, some community members are questioning police performance. Therefore, Ohio law enforcement administrators are evaluating certain police practices. Some of the key areas being examined are the use of independent use-of-force investigations, hiring practices, adding body-worn cameras, de-escalation strategies and diversity training. These areas are also the focus of proposed statewide legislation and new policing standards. All of these assessments are helpful to the future of policing.

The Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office

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Montgomery County Public Defender T.G. Haire speaks in front of the county jail Tuesday. She and other community advocates are calling for the jail population to be lowered due to COVID-19.

Montgomery County Public Defender T.G. Haire speaks in front of the county jail Tuesday. She and other community advocates are calling for the jail population to be lowered due to COVID-19.
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Montgomery County Public Defender T.G. Haire speaks in front of the county jail Tuesday. She and other community advocates are calling for the jail population to be lowered due to COVID-19.

This trial was not just about the actions of Derek Chauvin, it was a trial about police policy, procedure and accountability. As a community, we must demand that our police agencies conduct a rigorous review of their use of force policies, procedures, and training to ensure that de-escalation is primary and that force is used only when necessary, as a last resort, and in a manner that is proportional to the threat being faced. Additionally, we must demand a full-scale review of our entire approach to public safety. We need to ask ourselves who really needs to be arrested, what offenses need to be prosecuted, and what offenses could be better handled through mediation and diversion. Demanding that police be held accountable for their actions is only the first step in the ultimate goal of dismantling a criminal justice system rooted in structural racism and “tough on crime” policies that cause harm to the citizens of our community and do little to keep them safe.

Springboro Police Chief Jeffrey Kruithoff

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Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff recites Words of Remembrance during the September 11, Remembrance Ceremony and Commemoration at the Warren County 9/11 Memorial, Tuesday, September 11, 2012, in Lebanon. Photo by Robert Leifheit/Contributing Photographer

Credit: Robert Leifheit

Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff recites Words of Remembrance during the September 11, Remembrance Ceremony and Commemoration at the Warren County 9/11 Memorial, Tuesday, September 11, 2012, in Lebanon. Photo by Robert Leifheit/Contributing Photographer
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Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff recites Words of Remembrance during the September 11, Remembrance Ceremony and Commemoration at the Warren County 9/11 Memorial, Tuesday, September 11, 2012, in Lebanon. Photo by Robert Leifheit/Contributing Photographer

Credit: Robert Leifheit

Credit: Robert Leifheit

The current state of affairs has been full of emotion since we all saw the video from last May. The actions of the officer were universally condemned, but a narrative was introduced that this officer would not be held accountable. That narrative turned out to be false …

Unfortunately, a factual discussion cannot occur until the emotion of these events has passed. That may never occur. The current narrative that most of our police officers are all racists, undertrained, and in need of a major overhaul in their practices is too well established in our national discourse right now.

We can have and encourage conversations. Conversations that make us uncomfortable. Conversations that cause us to be vulnerable, and open ourselves up to criticism. We have to stop yelling at each other from across the street.

The first thing to continually emphasize is that although it should have never happened, the system worked for George Floyd in the same feeble manner it works for thousands of people who are murdered every year in our country.

Everything in life can be improved and our system of justice is just one of them … Earlier this year, the city of Springboro and the Division of Police began a community dialog on race. The first panel discussion was held in February where the police chief facilitated a discussion with four Black men about their experiences growing up.

The next panel discussion will be held this coming Wednesday where a local Black pastor will facilitate a discussion among five Black police officers called “Law Enforcement from a Black Perspective.” These efforts to promote dialog in a largely white community are important to get people talking and keep them talking. It is only through reasoned and convincing dialog where change occurs.

Nikol Miller, executive director of the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio

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Nikol Miller is the executive director of the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio

Nikol Miller is the executive director of the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio
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Nikol Miller is the executive director of the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio

On the same day that Derrick Chauvin was rightfully convicted in the murder of George Floyd, the Black community had to brace ourselves with the news of the officer involved killing of Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus. The community needs to see accountability for police misconduct. Congress need to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that focuses on ending dangerous police techniques, such as chokeholds and carotid holds, essentially banning no-knock warrants by state and local government agencies, require local and state police agencies to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of body cameras, and create a national police misconduct registry to prevent police officers who are fired or pushed out for bad performance from being hired by other agencies.

ExplorePolice kill Ma'Khia Bryant, 16, who attacked 2 with knife

Michael Sherr, professor of social work at Cedarville University; member of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties

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Dr. Michael Sherr, professor of social work at Cedarville University; member of the Mental Health and Recovery Board (MHRB) of Clark, Greene, and Madison County

Dr. Michael Sherr, professor of social work at Cedarville University; member of the Mental Health and Recovery Board (MHRB) of Clark, Greene, and Madison County
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Dr. Michael Sherr, professor of social work at Cedarville University; member of the Mental Health and Recovery Board (MHRB) of Clark, Greene, and Madison County

We have to focus on listening to the experiences of people of color in the community. White citizens need to recognize that color blindness is not an option. We need to seek unity as fellow human beings while celebrating differences. We need to find ways to think of others as more valuable than ourselves.

As community leaders, we need to take a hard look at the institutional policies and practices in place that continue to funnel issues into color blind solutions. Equity in access, resources and opportunities need to be part of community decision-making priorities of leaders and all constituents.

At the same time, we need individual citizens in our diverse communities to hold themselves accountable to living in harmony, taking responsibility for their families, and forgiving themselves and others when they are wronged. Simple things such as talking with people who look different from you, waving, making eye contact, and communicating respect and dignity to each person would go a long way to ensuring civil harmony.

Sabrina Jordan, founder of Ohio Families Unite Against Police Brutality

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Dashelle Starks (the mother of Jamarco McShann’s son), Rev. Jerome McCorry and Sabrina Jordan (mother of McShann) address the crowd Saturday at a rally at the Moraine police department to protest the death of McShann by Moraine police officers. MARK GOKAVI / STAFF

Dashelle Starks (the mother of Jamarco McShann’s son), Rev. Jerome McCorry and Sabrina Jordan (mother of McShann) address the crowd Saturday at a rally at the Moraine police department to protest the death of McShann by Moraine police officers. MARK GOKAVI / STAFF
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Dashelle Starks (the mother of Jamarco McShann’s son), Rev. Jerome McCorry and Sabrina Jordan (mother of McShann) address the crowd Saturday at a rally at the Moraine police department to protest the death of McShann by Moraine police officers. MARK GOKAVI / STAFF

My organization Ohio Families Unite Against Police Brutality, and Cynthia Brown’s organization Deescalate Ohio Now out of Columbus partnered up, and formed a committee called Accountability Now Ohio to apply with the Ohio Attorney General’s office to collect signatures for petitions to get a ballot initiative to end qualified immunity for police officers in Ohio for 2022. Ending qualified immunity in Ohio is what we need to do next to protect communities from police terror.

Police need to know that they will be held accountable when they pull their weapon to kill. The police always claim they feared for their lives; we fear for our lives when we are pulled over by police, or in any form of contact with them, but we are not allowed to protect ourselves from the police. The communities are way past tired of police brutality. We are attacking the laws that allow police to terrorize us.

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A better Dayton Coalition held a press conference Monday at the Word Church to announce details for a memorial service to held Tuesday, June 9 at Courthouse Square to remember the unarmed black victims murdered by law enforcement. From left, Bishop Jerome McCorry, Bishop Richard Cox, Pastor Chad White and Donald Domineck. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF

A better Dayton Coalition held a press conference Monday at the Word Church to announce details for a memorial service to held Tuesday, June 9 at Courthouse Square to remember the unarmed black victims murdered by law enforcement. From left, Bishop Jerome McCorry, Bishop Richard Cox, Pastor Chad White and Donald Domineck. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF
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A better Dayton Coalition held a press conference Monday at the Word Church to announce details for a memorial service to held Tuesday, June 9 at Courthouse Square to remember the unarmed black victims murdered by law enforcement. From left, Bishop Jerome McCorry, Bishop Richard Cox, Pastor Chad White and Donald Domineck. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF

Lawrence Burnley, vice president of diversity at the University of Dayton

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Lawrence Burnley

Lawrence Burnley
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Lawrence Burnley

First and foremost, (where we go from here) has to be informed by where we are. And an examination of where we are socially, economically, politically would involve a really critical assessment of where we’ve been.

There are ways in which each of us, consciously or unconsciously largely, participate in advancing systems and policies and practices that are in fact racist … We must engage in purposeful collaboration and dialogue with persons from across various sectors of our society.

There’s an increasing number of people who are ready. I think there’s still far too many of us that are not, quite frankly.

We don’t have an educational system that brings marginalized narratives and voices of LGBTQ-plus communities, women, African Americans, Native Americans, Latinx to the center of intellectual discourse. And we don’t have good intuition saying we must engage these voices in order to be considered well educated, quite the contrary.

We have to choose to position ourselves to reeducate ourselves about how we understand our past, which will inform how we understand our present, thereby positioning us in a way to imagine a very different future and a pathway to how to get there together.

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