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Ohio state senator opposes defunding police, supports justice for excessive police force

Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, says she believes defunding law enforcement would leave agencies understaffed and officers under-trained.
Credit: https://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/gavarone

COLUMBUS, Ohio — State Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, announced Thursday the introduction of a resolution in the Ohio Senate that opposes efforts to defund law enforcement agencies, while also calling for justice for victims of excessive force.

"The vast majority of law enforcement officers do things right. They're working very hard and take risks and never know what they're going to encounter when they go to work each day," Gavarone said. 

Gavarone believes defunding law enforcement would leave agencies understaffed and officers under-trained which would not only increase the risk of unjustifiable or excessive use of force but also would increase the risk of violent crime in communities already under stress from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent protests.

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In 2019, 89 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, according to language in Gavarone's two-page resolution. 

Even though she doesn't agree with defunding the police, she's not opposed to funding other programs that might enhance safety and mental health services.

Activist Julian Mack with the Community Solidarity Response Network of Toledo believes law enforcement agencies should be defunded. He said that funds should be reallocated to the community. 

"We have seen a vast expansion of police and prison budgets over the past 20 to 30 years and we cannot say that has made our community safer. We know that investing in resources in our community is going to make our community safer," Mack said. 

Those resources include domestic violence, mental illness, or addiction experts who can handle certain situations instead of police, according to Mack.

Secondly, the resolution calls for justice for victims of excessive police force. It states that officers who abuse their positions, engage in corruption, employ excessive force, or exhibit bias betray the public trust and undermine the rule of law. 

"I talked to law enforcement officers all over my district and they also oppose excessive force and are disgusted when they see things happening that betray that public trust that you have with law enforcement and the public," Gavarone said. 

The Senate will hold hearings and testimony on the resolution and will vote on it during its next session.