YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The third in a series of community police forums was held Tuesday at the New Bethel Baptist Church on Youngstown’s south side.
The meeting focused on accountability. Police started by highlighting their current outreach methods.
“We spoke to the clergy. We’ve been very involved with the Chiefs of Police Association that focuses on keeping our relationship open with everybody,” said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene.
While the law enforcement officers were on stage, a crowd of over 300 followed along on social media and was focused on holding police accountable through citizen oversight committees. Some chiefs didn’t see a need for them.
“Since 2107, we’ve had two complaints,” Greene said.
Warren Police Chief Eric Merkel said his department doesn’t get a lot of excessive force complaints, saying they’ve only had five this year.
Others said that elected officials provide a review of police activity. Canfield Police Chief Chuck Colucci said trustees play a role in that review.
“For each community, I’m sure it varies and differs, but they’re certainly a part,” Colucci said.
Citizens investigating police is an idea that is problematic to some. Privacy issues are just one concern.
“When you start getting into investigations, and you start talking about medical records, even we can’t get subpoenas for that,” said Milton Township Police Chief Chuck Van Dyke.
The discussion also covered the use of body cameras, which many area departments already use. The budgets for some departments, though, can’t support the cost of the devices.
“The cost is prohibitive,” said Boardman Township Police Chief Todd Werth. “So, we continually look at this. There is absolutely no resistance for us to have body cameras.”
The next community forum is scheduled for November 24.