A Letter from Chief Jones
During my tenure as the Chief of Police for the City of Perrysburg, you and I have had numerous conversations about police interaction with the community and race relations. The murder of George Floyd in Minnesota has brought the subject of police-race relations to the forefront again. The murder of George Floyd is inexcusable and beyond explanation. The actions of the ex-officers cannot be explained or justified. Words that came to mind when I viewed this video were horrific, shameful, unprofessional, immoral, and criminal. The actions and inactions of these former officers have cast a negative light on law enforcement across the United States. These ex-officers must be held accountable.
Americans are outraged, including myself and the members of the Perrysburg Police Division. We as humans should be outraged at all unjustified acts of violence and the unequal treatment of others. We, as a society, must get to a point where we treat everyone equally and with respect. The members of the Perrysburg Police Division understand that we must be respectful of every person we come in contact with and we must treat everyone equally. We serve the people. As I have told you before, I am always ready to sit down and have the conversation with anyone who feels that they were not treated respectfully or equally by members of the Perrysburg Police Division. We must continually evolve and make sure we are performing our duties in a professional and unbiased manner.
The Perrysburg Police Division has taken to steps ensure that we continue to evolve. Officers have received training in verbal de-escalation techniques and we are in the process of having every officer trained in crisis intervention techniques. Each year officers undergo training on use of force policies and the laws governing the use of force. They must pass a written test on these policies and laws each year. We have increased our "out of car" experiences in the community with officers spending more time interacting with the community outside of their vehicles and while on bicycle. Our School Resource Officer and DARE Officer continue to promote positive interaction with the students of Perrysburg Schools, and the remainder of our officers are encouraged to stop in throughout the school day. We continue to have a presence at community events such as Harrison Rally Day, National Night Out, and other community events, where members of the public can have conversations with members of the Division.
Last year, every City employee went through implicit bias training. This training was put on by Dr. Marvin Whitfield of Blue Force MTT. Dr. Whitfield is a Perrysburg resident and founder of Blue Force MTT. Dr. Whitfield and I have had an initial conversation about expanding on this training, specific to law enforcement. We will be meeting this week to discuss this training further.
Late last year, I began looking into the process of having the Perrysburg Police Division certified by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board. The Ohio Collaborative is a 12- person panel of law enforcement experts and community leaders from throughout the state, who have established state standards for various policy areas for law enforcement agencies. These policy areas include vehicular pursuit, investigation of employee misconduct, bias free policing, telecommunicator training, body worn cameras, use of force and deadly force, employee recruitment and hiring, and community engagement. After I began looking into this, I took it one step further and decided that I wanted to do a complete review and update to our existing polices. Funds have been allocated within the budget to enter into an agreement with Lexipol to conduct a review and update of our policies. Once the policy update is complete, the policies will meet the requirements of the Ohio Collaborative and allow the Perrysburg Police Division to achieve certification. The agreement with Lexipol will also provide daily training bulletins for employees, the testing of an employee's knowledge of the polices, and track employees acknowledgement and understanding of the polices. Lexipol will also provide policy updates to comply with changes in the law, recent court decisions, and new standards.
Funds have also been allocated to upgrade the existing in-car camera system and to add body worn cameras. The addition of body worn cameras will provide further assurances for both the officers and the public, while increasing transparency.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the process on the Lexipol and camera projects, we continue to move towards implementing these projects. I will be seeking approval from the Safety Committee, in June, and from City Council, in July, to enter into a contract with Lexipol in order to begin that project. I will also be completing my review of camera systems and moving forward with a recommendation on the purchase and implementation of a new camera system.
My goal is to have one of the most highly trained and professional law enforcement agencies in the nation. We currently have some of the best law enforcement professionals working for the Perrysburg Police Division, who are committed to serving all people equally and respectfully. We will continue this service while continually evolving.
Chief of Police