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Experts: police recruitment and retention key in solving use-of-force issues

Posted at 10:26 PM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 23:24:46-04

CLEVELAND — Police use-of-force issues have law enforcement agencies and lawmakers here in northeast Ohio and across the country searching for answers as protesters demand change following the Minneapolis police-involved death of George Floyd.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine responded by announcing the creation of a new state Office of Police Recruitment.

DeWine said the office would focus on finding higher quality police recruits, specifically more women and minority candidates.

DeWine quickly appointed former Cleveland Police Chief and Cedarville University Criminal Justice Program Director, Dr. Patrick Oliver as the lead consultant on the new recruitment effort.

Oliver told News 5 he believes inadequate recruitment, selection and retention by Ohio law enforcement agencies is one of the leading causes of on-going police use-of-force issues.

"It’s a top three issue in law enforcement today, the recruitment, retention and selection of law enforcement officers,” Oliver said.

“You can’t transform an agency unless you hire people, it’s the people you hire that will change the culture.”

“It comes down to either negligent hiring, or negligent retention. So law enforcement agencies didn’t hire the right person or they didn’t properly manage a person when problems began to appear.”

“Law enforcement agencies need to know what they’re looking for before they recruit and select law enforcement officers, and there are 6 important traits.”

"Office candidates must have integrity, be service oriented, have good human relations skills, be a compatible team member, be performance driven and have self-control."

“They have to have self control, so when things are out of control they can stay under control, stay with their role and do the job with care and compassion.”

Professor Daniel Flannery with the Case Western Reserve University Mandel School, and director of the Begun Center for Violence Prevention told News 5 officer training and psychological testing for cadets must be updated and improved.

"Training must be centered around de-escalation, around mental heath, around implicit bias, around dealing with young people, and interacting with families on a routine basis,” Flannery said.

“There have been some traditional personality tests that have been around for a very long time, that may or may not be picking up the right characteristics. People can fake good.”

“I think the time is right to look at all pieces of the puzzle here.”

Oliver, who wrote a 2013 book on the subject of police recruitment and retention, told News 5 communicating with officer candidates while they're still in high school is crucial.

“Getting people interested in law enforcement when they’re in their teenage years, catching them, training them, developing them," Oliver said.

“You have to make sure law enforcement candidates are psychologically suitable for the job.”