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Ohio lawmakers should consider police reform plan

People like Derek Chauvin need to be kept out of law enforcement. When they manage to elude safeguards with that as a goal, they need to be identified and booted out of the profession.

And when law enforcement brutality does occur, it simply must be punished swiftly and severely.

All that is as obvious to the overwhelming majority of police officers, sheriffs’ deputies and others involved in law enforcement as it is to other Americans. That overwhelming majority in law enforcement are good men and women who use force only when there is no alternative.

They should not have to serve alongside brutes who view badges as licenses to harm other people — and sometimes kill them.

Chauvin, of course, is the ex-Minneapolis officer who has been charged with murdering George Floyd. Three other former members of the Minneapolis force have been charged with lesser offenses because they did not stop Chauvin from killing Floyd.

Chauvin’s callous, almost casual viciousness, seen on a widely circulated video, has united Americans to an extent seen very, very rarely. Shock, outrage, burning anger and a demand that something be done about people like Chauvin are common reactions to the video.

Now what? This is not the first time there have been calls for law enforcement reforms. And, though there have been some attempts at that, they have not been adequate.

Some city councils already have taken action such as banning use of choke-holds by law enforcement officers. Legislators in many states have discussed more sweeping reforms.

Here in Ohio, two lawmakers whose careers included stints in law enforcement are introducing a package of measures. Those legislators are Cindy Abrams, R-Harrison, who worked as a Cincinnati police officer; and Phil Plummer, R-Dayton, who served as a county sheriff for 10 years.

Among their ideas are hiring more minority officers, requiring psychological testing for new law enforcement personnel, creating a state database of officers who commit violent offenses, and taking the disciplinary process out of law enforcement agencies’ hands. Instead, arbitrators or judges would handle the task.

The two legislators said their plan is to “weed out the bad actors.”

Similar ideas are being considered in many other states.

Good. The Abrams-Plummer plan should be considered immediately by Ohio legislators. The sooner safeguards are put in place, the better.

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