Dayton police reform: Committee recommends culture of de-escalation

Dayton City Commissioners have said they are seeking to reform the way law enforcement and the community interact. Working groups are discussing methods of encouraging de-escalation policies for Dayton police officers.

Will Smith, a member of the Dayton City School board, was hired by the city to act as a consultant and “bridge” between the reform groups established earlier this year and the community. He shared updates for the working group during a Dayton City Commission meeting Wednesday evening.

“We should have a culture of de-escalating situations,” Smith said. “That can be a transformative thing in our city.”

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The use of force working group discussed recommendations of body cameras and suggested creating an annual use of force report. The group also called for a policy in which an officer unholstering and pointing a weapon at someone is considered a show of force.

Smith said that pointing a weapon can be psychologically harmful. While he didn’t recommend putting the pointing a weapon into the report, the group suggested making the change.

Smith also said that working groups found no de-escalation policy within the use-of-force policy. Groups started to draft a policy to be added into the use-of-force policy.

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The working groups formed after local, state and national protests erupted and sought racial justice in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

More than 100 people agreed to be part of Dayton’s reform efforts.

Five working groups, each consisting of about 22 members, have been meeting since the summer to discuss, examine and come up with recommendations on the specific focus areas of oversight, use of force, training, engagement and recruitment and promotion.

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