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Editorial: Kasich’s policing committee needs more involvement from Southeast Ohio

Steps to improve police-community relations in Southeast Ohio might differ from other parts of the state.

Ohio’s police departments making steps toward discussing body or lapel cameras on officers through a “task force” is certainly a promising step, but that’s not to say what works for a large police department in Cleveland or Columbus will work just the same at the Athens and Ohio University police departments.

In areas such as Athens, state funding might be better utilized for hiring more officers locally, hiring more female and minority officers or other department improvements, especially considering how APD and OUPD have been able to find low-cost ways to connect with the community and improve police-student relations through events like the annual JPAC barbecue or Coffee With a Cop.

That’s not to say body cameras aren’t needed locally. They are. But, local police departments should be attempting to reflect the progressive actions being taken in larger and more diverse communities while state agencies, such as the Ohio Department of Public Safety, attempt to address the concerns of smaller departments with considerably less funding.

Further, Ohio is diverse for a state of its size.

What’s good for Southeast Ohio might not improve police-community relations elsewhere — and vice versa. As far as we can tell, the structure of the committee does a poor job accounting for that, particular because none of Kasich’s appointees actually call Southeast Ohio home.

Though we are encouraged by the fact that there now seems to be a push to improve police accountability and protect underrepresented groups in Ohio, we hope Athens’ law enforcement agencies — and those throughout this part of the state — will actually become a part of the conversation, and that the larger state agencies will listen.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Post's executive editors: Editor-in-Chief Emma Ockerman, Managing Editor Rebekah Barnes and Digital Managing Editor Samuel Howard. Post editorials are independent of the publication's news coverage.

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