Thomas Comment on DeWine's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Initiatives
February 4, 2021
Today, state Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Avondale) praised the new criminal justice and public safety initiatives proposed by Governor Mike DeWine as part of his state budget proposal.
“I’m glad that the governor has proposed providing more funds to help local law enforcement agencies get body cameras and recruit qualified police offers,” said Thomas. “Ten million dollars might not be sufficient to make sure all police departments in Ohio can give their officers body cameras, but it’s certainly a start.”
Thomas applauded the governor’s school safety recommendations, which include support for the Safer Ohio School Safety Tip Line – an anonymous mental health reporting system for K-12 students – as well as the Ohio School Safety Center, which helps identify potentially unsafe, suspicious or harmful online activity. Thomas also supported the governor’s proposed Violent Crime Reduction Grant, which includes $8 million over the biennium to support the creation of Crime Gun Intelligence Centers and help fund other projects to reduce gun violence, such as gunshot detention technology and community initiatives.
“Ohioans have asked us for months to ‘do something’ to end gun violence,” said Thomas. “I’ll keep fighting for the legislature to pass commonsense gun reform but until that happens, initiatives like this can help make our communities safer and keep guns out of criminals’ hands.”
Sen. Thomas applauded the governor’s approach to funding programs based on data-driven evidence.
“I have advocated for data collection and analysis of the entire public safety and criminal justice systems ever since I entered the legislature in 2015,” said Thomas. “Not only is it best practice to look at the data before launching or funding a program, but also afterward to evaluate its effectiveness. This approach safeguards taxpayers’ dollars.”
Thomas also supported DeWine’s proposal to create divisions of the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center (ONIC) in Cincinnati and Toledo. ONIC, which currently has offices only in Columbus and Cleveland, helps law enforcement investigate large-scale drug trafficking cases. It operates as part of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
“In order for Ohio to get ahead of the illegal drug trade, we need to look at the major drug traffickers,” said Thomas. “These centers will work with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to share intelligence and analyze data to get to the source of the criminal activity and stop it before the drugs hit the streets.”
Thomas was also supportive of Governor DeWine’s Expedited Pardon Project, which would simplify the clemency application process for ex-offenders who can prove they have been rehabilitated and have contributed positively to their communities after completing their sentences. Participants can also ask to have their records sealed. The governor proposed adding $1 million to the project to allow thousands of qualifying Ohioans to participate.
“The process for requesting a pardon involves gathering and completing many documents and forms,” said Thomas. “Many folks don’t have access to their documents, which makes the process unnecessarily complicated. I support investing money in this program because it gives offenders a clean slate and allows them to rebuild their life, and agree with the governor that record sealing needs to be an integral part of that new beginning.”