Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman said the State doesn’t always know best. That’s why he’s concerned about some of the law enforcement reform ideas proposed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.
One of the cornerstones of DeWine’s proposed reforms is to move the responsibility for prosecuting crimes by local police away from counties and cities and into the hands of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Under DeWine’s proposed reforms:
- All officer-involved shootings and any deaths in custody would trigger an automatic investigation by Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
- Record each use of force in the state database
- Prosecutions handled by the state instead of the local prosecutor.
Does the State Really Know Best?
Tieman recently called for reform in the handling of low-level drug cases. He also expressed concern over the death of Scioto County Jail inmate Kevin Bailey from injuries suffered during an incident with guards last month. I reached out to him and asked if he thinks DeWine’s reforms go too far or not far enough.
Tieman admitted he hadn’t had the chance to take a close look at all of the reforms. However, he offered his initial impressions.
“Such changes need to be thoroughly reviewed and considered. We need to be mindful of unintended consequences. As a general belief, despite issues that come up from time to time, the closer government is to the people it serves, the more accountable it can be held.
“I don’t like the idea of the State thinking they know what is best for Scioto County. Too many times at the State level, I see the interests of Franklin County or Cuyahoga County drown out our interests here. And what works in Franklin County, doesn’t necessarily work here.”
Collecting Data Can Help
As far as data reporting, Tieman likes that idea. His office uses a database to help select candidates for its early intervention program for low-level drug offenders.
“With regard to reporting, I certainly think the data being collected would be helpful, IF someone actually utilized that data to address these issues. You can have all the analysis and think tanks in the world, but if the rubber never meets the road, then it’s not effective and just a waste of resources.”
Conflict of Interest
Governor DeWine said he hoped moving prosecution responsibility to the state level would prevent conflicts of interest. Local prosecutors must have a close working relationship with law enforcement and DeWine worried prosecutions of officers could damage it.
Tieman doesn’t see it that way. “Our local agencies have generally had a good relationship working with BCI and the Attorney General’s Office. When appropriate, we request their assistance in matters, whether on the investigation side or on the prosecution side. However, laws that take away the discretion of the leaders this county elected to make decisions in this county, should give everyone pause.”
The prosecutor doesn’t think the reforms will increase transparency as the Governor hoped. “The Attorney General’s Office would have to follow the same rules that my office follows with regard to pending investigations. They typically are less likely to reply to media requests. I don’t think it will increase transparency. There are certain rules we have to follow with regard to what can be provided to the public and when it can be provided. These rules apply to all levels of government.”