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Proposed Ohio budget includes funding for criminal justice reform

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Posted at 6:42 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 19:55:31-05

CLEVELAND — On Wednesday morning, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine gave us a sneak peek at the state's proposed two-year budget, which includes taking your tax dollars to help tackle crime.

The cries for change on the streets of Cleveland reached Columbus, as Governor DeWine set aside funding in the state's proposed budget to address criminal justice.

"If it's not accompanied by policies and programs, engagement, really expanding the table by which criminal reform conversations happen, then it's just money," said Pastor Micah Sims, Lee Memorial AME Church.

News 5 asked Pastor Sims whether it's even possible to throw enough money at the issue.

“I don't think you can. I think this is more than just a money problem,” said Sims.

Sims said the problem goes well beyond the public's interaction with police.

"It also involves sentencing, it involves bail, it involves what kind of judges are on the bench, it involves what kind of programs are available, it involves what kind of programs do we need in communities to lessen violence," said Sims.

There's $8 million allocated to make our streets safer by implementing new violence reduction strategies to prevent and solve crimes, along with $10 million in grants to help police departments outfit more officers with body cameras to encourage transparency and accountability.

"The public has more trust in the criminal justice system when officers are wearing them,” DeWine said.

Specifics on the criminal justice budget provision will be released in the coming weeks.

Until then, Pastor Sims plans to reach out to the governor's office to request a seat at the table, so those like him, with boots on the ground, can help craft what true reform looks like in the State of Ohio.

"I'll take another $10 million for community programming, $10 million for community police relations would be great, $10 million to decrease violence in our urban cities in Ohio — that would be great," said Sims.