A member of Worthington City Council has outlined three areas of reform for the Worthington Division of Police.
David Robinson said the recent national protests over the death of George Floyd and the call for the overhaul of police policy have caused him to take up the issues involving use of force, inventory of tactical material and mutual-aid agreements.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police officers after being accused of passing a fake $20 bill at a grocery store May 25. In a video of the encounter, Floyd gasped as officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes. Chauvin and three other officers have been criminally charged for their roles in his death.
"I think it's important to look at what I'm proposing here as what is taking place across the country," said Robinson, adding he expects to begin discussions in earnest during council's August recess.
Robinson said he is not piling on his local police officers but rather trying to get out in front of issues that could be problematic in the future.
"I think the police force is professional, and it's in their interest to have a public that has worked with them to make sure our policies reflect the values of Worthington," he said.
Worthington has seen its share of weekly protests at High Street and Dublin-Granville Road, where activists have spilled out into the street and blocked traffic and have been accused of vandalism.
Robinson's proposal comes on the heels of an ongoing discussion of local police wearing body cameras.
Robinson said his proposal is not in response to any particular action of any Worthington police officer or the division in general, and it is not endorsing the mission of Black Lives Matter, which has been involved in many protests.
He said police policy generally is written by Lexipol, a California-based company that provides services to law-enforcement agencies across the country.
He said he suggests a full inventory of tactical material and all "force-deployment" equipment and material, including firearms, crowd-control gear, chemical substances such as tear-gas and pepper spray, vehicles and communications equipment.
Robinson said he further suggests a thorough review of the police division's mutual-aid agreement with other police jurisdictions -- particularly as it relates to Worthington's participation in operations taking place in other jurisdictions where police conduct might be incompatible with Worthington's standards and policies.
Council President Bonnie Michael said City Council members need to consider which, if any, of Robinson's suggestions they would like it to pursue and then assign them to city staff members for review and a recommendation.
"This is one proposal of many the community is discussing that we hope will bring real change, racial equity," Michael said. "I think there always can be some room for improvement in human relations in everything we do."