A new set of state standards aimed at eliminating racial profiling is sensible and workable and should be embraced by police forces everywhere, including in Toledo.
The Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board approved a package of measures this week intended to help local police prevent racial profiling of subjects by their officers. Gov. John Kasich created the board in 2015 in response to incidents in which police officers fatally shot black suspects.
The standards prohibit “bias-based” or racial profiling when officers stop a motorist or pedestrian and provide training in racial profiling and laws that pertain to the issue. The new standards also require Ohio police departments to record and track the races and genders of everyone involved in traffic stops and to review that data annually and make it public.
These standards will require more work for local police, but it will be time, money, and energy well spent. Law enforcement must do all it can to address systemic bias and prevent racial profiling.
To his great credit, Toledo Police Chief George Kral has made many efforts to forge good relationships with groups that may feel profiled or marginalized in the city.
When he appeared as a representative of TPD at a 2015 trial for a lawsuit accusing multiple law enforcement agencies, including his own and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, of profiling Latinos, Chief Kral used the opportunity to mingle with a crowd supporting the plaintiffs outside the federal courthouse.
He has organized Coffee with Cops events and town-hall meetings to chat with residents about their concerns. Last November, he participated in a forum with other law enforcement officials and representatives of Black Lives Matter to hear concerns and discuss how police are dealing with them. Another panelist at that event was Oregon Police Chief Mike Navarre, who is a member of the advisory board that set the anti-bias standards.
These standards are a logical and pragmatic step toward the kind of policing that Chief Kral seeks and most Ohioans want. They will help our police officers, not hinder them.