Frequently Asked Questions
Do our officers and staff go through implicit bias training?
Yes, our officers have all participated in State of Ohio mandated implicit bias training, as well as additional training beyond what the state requires. We have a professionally trained implicit bias instructor on staff. The training is called Emotional and Social Intelligence Training. Learn more about the RITE Academy here
Is there any more information available about the training that our officers receive, specifically around use-of-force, de-escalation, and crisis intervention for people with mental health issues?
Every officer attends a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team course that includes extensive training in de-escalation with a specialized focus on interactions with people with mental health issues. The crisis intervention training is designed to help persons with mental disorders and/or addictions access medical treatment rather than place them in the criminal justice system due to illness-related behaviors. It also promotes officer safety and the safety of the individual in crisis.
The Division regularly reviews its use-of-force policies and provides regular scenario-based training and testing. In addition, the Division requires review of aspects of our use-of-force policies at least twice per year with a qualified instructor to ensure comprehension and potential risks of application.
Does the ‘rule book’ for police include the use of knee to control a person like in Minnesota?
As a certified member agency of the Ohio Collaborative, a community based advisory board, we have adopted use of force policies that reflect best practices. This includes using as little force as necessary to control a resistant subject. Chokeholds are not a permissible use of force technique in the Worthington Division of Police.
What efforts does the Worthington Division of Police take to document the demographics of drivers ticketed with traffic violations?
In 2019, the Division updated its policy on collecting demographic information about people ticketed with traffic violations to be consistent with best practices of the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board. Please see the 2019 summary report linked here.
2020 data has not been compiled to date.
Will Zero Tolerance violators be immediately dismissed, and records shared with other police forces, so they never work in law enforcement again?
We commit to fully investigating any incidents so we can take appropriate action. A number of personnel policies and practices must be followed when disciplining or dismissing an employee. Governor DeWine has recently acknowledged the lack of a centralized database for use by law enforcement regarding previous discipline and dismissals. We support efforts to address this issue and would participate in such a clearinghouse of information.
What is being done to ensure the safety of whistleblowers in the department (officers, staff, all the way up and down the chain) who report other officers for racist behavior? How are you making sure there is no retaliation against whistleblowers for violating the “brotherhood”?
At the very core, whistleblowers are protected from retaliation by law. In addition, the Worthington Division of Police has zero tolerance for retaliation embedded in an anti-retaliation policy. All complaints – internal and external – are taken seriously and are promptly and appropriately investigated. If events occur and behaviors don’t meet our expectations, we hold ourselves accountable for our actions. We commit to fully investigating any incidents so we can take appropriate action.
What safeguards exist to prevent innocent bystanders from being hurt during a use of force incident, and what review standards exist in the event that someone is hurt?
Every Worthington police officer is trained in de-escalation strategies. This includes making sure that others aren’t in danger either from a suspect or police action to capture the suspect. Use of force incidents are regularly reviewed, and continuous additional training is provided to officers to ensure force is applied in a manner that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and circumstances perceived by the officer at the time of the event to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose. The safety of innocent bystanders is a critical consideration when deciding to use force to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement action.
What policies does the city have in place to discourage racial and other kinds of discrimination?
City Council last year passed a non-discrimination ordinance to make our city’s stance clear – discrimination in any form will not be tolerated. City Council is also in the process of drafting legislation that would recognize the impacts of racism and commit to the promotion racial equality.
The City’s Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy, included in our Personnel Rules, indicates “The City of Worthington strongly disapproves and expressly prohibits any form of unlawful harassment or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, military status, status as a veteran or special disabled veteran, or any other characteristics protected by applicable federal, state or local laws.”
Additionally, as a certified member of the Ohio Collaborative, the Worthington Division of Police has policies in place to strictly prohibit discriminating against, oppressing or providing favoritism to any person because of age, race, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry, marital status, physical or mental disability, medical condition or other classification protected by law, or intentionally denying or impeding another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity, knowing the conduct is unlawful.
The City has had a Community Relations Commission (CRC) for many years giving voice to under-represented people in our community. The CRC works on issues related to fair and equal treatment for all persons, promoting and fostering understanding, positive relationships and a strong sense of community among people of diverse educational, racial, ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds. The CRC organizes and hosts the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration and other programs on issues of race and equality such as redlining and other discriminatory practices. In addition to the CRC, the Worthington International Friendship Association and Partners for Community and Character provide programming and education to the Worthington community to foster respect and understanding of people from different cultures and respect of all people.
Do Worthington police officers use body cameras?
Worthington police officers do not currently have body cameras, although we have taken steps recently to be able to implement them. When body cameras first became available for use by police officers, we had concern about the public records law in Ohio and the cost of body cameras. There were a number of questions regarding how the video would be treated under Ohio’s public records law. We had concerns about how to appropriately protect sensitive information and images related to victims from being broadly distributed to the public. Additionally, the cost of the equipment and video storage were a major concern. In recent years, Ohio’s public records law has been revised to address video footage from police body cameras and the cost of the equipment and storage of video has fallen. Last year, the City of Worthington took a step toward future implementation of body camera when it upgraded the in-car video equipment to a vendor and platform that also allows for body cameras to be implemented in a financially feasible way. We typically consider such purchases as part of our annual Capital Improvement Program and we have anticipated they would be considered for funding as part of the next update.
What steps are being done to ensure officers are not known associates of the numerous white supremacist groups in Ohio? Does the incident review board include citizen oversight?
The City has a stringent hiring process in place that includes panel interviews, a nationally accredited testing process, background investigations through third party investigators, final interviews, psychological interviews, polygraph exams, and an extensive field training officer period which includes daily evaluation of performance. Additionally, new officers undergo a year-long probationary period.
The City does not employ a citizen review board to provide oversight. Each critical incident, to include the application of force, pursuits, discharge of firearms, injury to officer, or damage to property, including vehicle crashes, undergo a supervisor review at a minimum. Additional review can include an internal investigation as well as outside review by another police agency or prosecutor when necessary to ensure the integrity of the process.
Are School Resource Officers (SRO) necessary or are they simply meant to be a deterrent to scare students?
We strongly believe that the SRO program is invaluable to the partnership we enjoy with the Worthington School District. The SRO is a key member of the Threat Assessment Team concept endorsed by the Ohio Attorney General to ensure the safety of school buildings across Ohio. The SRO is invaluable in helping facilitate an all systems approach to helping kids overcome barriers to learning so that they may receive a quality education. The SRO is instrumental in developing relationships with our youth, fostered in trust, caring, and mentorship. The relationships formed between the SRO and our youth will help foster the dialogue and partnership we need to improve the quality of life of our residents today, tomorrow, and in the years to come.
Although the Worthington School Board recently moved to cancel the SRO contract, details are still being worked out about the future of the SRO program. The City remains open to working together on assurances to help strengthen the SRO, student and community relationship.
Have Worthington police responded to protests in Columbus?
Worthington Police were never employed in direct contact with demonstrators during the protests. We did have officers stationed on the outer perimeters of the area to prevent vehicle traffic from entering streets that were closed downtown as part of our mutual aid agreement with surrounding jurisdictions.
Suburban agencies routinely engage in mutual aid agreements with many of the regional law enforcement partners to ensure that the public safety needs of our community are met. Examples may include the use of canines to track a lost child or violent offender at large, forensic experts, traffic crash investigators, negotiators, training instructors, Drug Recognition Experts, Bomb Squads, Aviation, and many other specialties. A more recognizable aid involves the fire services, which routinely engages in a sharing of services on a daily basis to provide fire and emergency medical services.
Do residents need to file for a permit to hold a protest?
There is no permit needed to hold a protest in the right of way on the sidewalk. We do ask that you stay on the sidewalk and not in the street for the safety of all participants. If you were thinking of holding a protest and reserving the Village Green for your use, that does involve a permit from our Parks Department.
Protestors are asked to use the available trash and recycling receptacles for waste disposal and take their signs, leftover water and snacks, or other supplies with them when they leave for the day. In addition, we remind protestors to be mindful not to trample the surrounding park landscaping or deface the brick walls with chalk or other writing. Any supplies left after the conclusion of the protest or writing on the permanent structures will be removed according to public maintenance policy and procedures.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage protesters to be mindful of public health recommendations to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. We are happy to work with you to help facilitate your plans, if you’d like to share any more information about what you expect. City staff and our Divisions of Police and Fire are happy to assist and provide support to assure the safety and well-being of all protestors for a safe and peaceful protest.