To the Editor:

I am running for State Senate for one simple reason: to help as many people as I can.

Right now, Ohio’s most extreme politicians are falsely claiming we have to choose between the status quo or “defunding” the police. In reality, those are not the only options.

As I look at Senate District 2, it’s easy to see that different parts of our district have different needs.

Some rural portions of our community do not have adequate staffing of first responders. Low paid and understaffed departments have left some rural communities with only a handful of deputies on duty at night, or volunteer services for critical safety infrastructure.

As a Bowling Green State University professor, I am also a mandated reporter. That means I am required to share information on students who show signs of suicidal intent. The county responds to such reports by sending police officers to evaluate the mental health of the student. If that student is found to need mental health services, they are often walked out of their housing in handcuffs and driven away in a police car. Is this really the best way to help someone in crisis? Everyone will be better served by having appropriately skilled professionals able to respond in relevant circumstances.

I know from experience that we need to fund police in communities that are under served, but we also need accountability for the professionals serving our communities.

I will never call for “defunding” the police. I am calling for increased funding for mental health counseling, shelters for domestic violence, addiction services and paramedics. I am also calling for simple reforms to ensure police and communities can interact safely.

I support eight concrete reforms that have been shown to reduce police violence by up to 70%:

1. Ban choke holds.

2. Require de-escalation.

3. Require warning before shooting.

4. Require exhausting all alternatives before shooting.

5. Each officer has a duty to intervene.

6. Ban shooting at moving vehicles.

7. Require a use of force continuum.

8. Require comprehensive reporting on use of force.

Public servants must be responsible to the communities that they serve. To heal and protect our communities, we need to provide them the services they are asking for.

The solutions to these problems are not one size fits all, and they’re far more complex than the “choice” we’ve been presented.

Joel O’Dorisio

Bowling Green