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Ohio legislators work to slow violent crime, stay committed to police reform

Ohio Headlines

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)- As policymakers attempt to fight against the rise in violent crime, mayors of some of Ohio’s largest cities said they are committed to the police reform that was called for last summer.

“There is nothing more important to me than making sure that everyone in our community feels safe but there aren’t any quick fixes or easy answers,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.

It’s been a deadly year in Columbus with 107 homicides, to date, in 2021. The record is 174, which was set in 2020. Across the country, cities are seeing this trend, President Joe Biden called on mayors to use American Rescue Plan funds to fight back.

One issue police departments report is understaffing, and the state is sending funding for recruitment to police departments. Rep. Jeff LaRe (R- Violet Township) said it’s difficult to find qualified candidates who want to get into law enforcement in this climate.

“While funding and additional training, funding the vetting of recruits to make sure that we have the right folks in those jobs is great, it’s important but unless we change the perception, I’m concerned that we’re not going to be able to attract the folks to those jobs or that perception that we actually want,” LaRe said. “They are reactive instead of proactive right, we’re not doing that community policing that was so effective in the past, but again, that comes back to staffing and being able to recruit that kind of candidate we want.”

LaRe is running for the 15th congressional district. Here are comments from other candidates on the rise in violent crime:

Crime and homicide spikes across the country are directly due to Democrats’ decision to defund police. Our law enforcement officers are quitting and retiring at alarming rates due to the assault on their profession.

Ruth Edmonds, (R)

The unacceptable rise in violent crime is not a partisan problem and we should not let it become one. It’s an American problem that requires us to work together, as a nation to solve.

Greg Betts, (D)

The Democrats’ anti-police, soft on crime approach is returning Columbus and cities across the nation like San Francisco, New York and Chicago to the bad old days when criminals ruled the streets and law-abiding citizens feared for their lives and property.

Tom Hwang, (R)

We need to get politics out of policing and get back to supporting our law enforcement and addressing the huge problem of under-policing.

Omar Tarazi, (R)

City officials are now attempting to do two things at once: bolster police departments to combat violent crime and deliver police reform.

Ginther said it’s possible.

“The people of Columbus deserve to be safe. They also deserve to be treated and served with the appropriate amount of professionalism and training that we need from law enforcement officials,” he said.

“We’re not afraid of police reform but it has to be smart police reform and you also have to allow officers to do their jobs,” said Michael Weinman, director of Government Affairs for the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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