(COLUMBUS, Ohio) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced several new law enforcement initiatives, including a new training tool that could potentially save lives of law enforcement officers by better preparing them for use-of-force situations and high-speed pursuits.
Peace officers will now have access to state-of-the-art training through the new "Mobile Academy" program offered by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA). The academy features tactical firearm and driving simulators to help officers prepare for high risk situations.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, officers who are killed in the line of duty most often die from gunshot wounds and car accidents, respectively.
"We want our law enforcement officers to come home safely to their families every night, which is the main reason why we have invested in this new technology," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. "We expect that this new equipment will save lives. Officers who normally might not have access to this type of training will now be able to enhance their decision-making skills to prepare them for dangerous, life-threatening situations."
The Mobile Academy's three driving simulators and three firearms simulators are portable, allowing OPOTA instructors to bring the equipment to any law enforcement agency in the state, free of charge. Each simulator can train officers on hundreds of scenarios that play out on high-definition video screens.
The simulators, which each cost several thousand dollars, were purchased with funds from Ohio's casinos. Two-percent of Ohio's casino taxes are deposited into the Attorney General's Law Enforcement Training Fund.
Additionally, Attorney General DeWine announced today the development of three initiatives that will intensify Ohio's ability to monitor more than 19,000 convicted sex offenders living in the state.
The new initiatives include:
*Online Registration: The Attorney General's Office will provide sheriffs' offices in Ohio with new technology that will give sex offenders the option of updating their registration information online. The offender then has five days to confirm that information in person. The prefilled information program will expedite the reporting process and help alert sheriffs' offices as to when the offender may be appearing.
*Smartphone Verification Application: The Attorney General's Office will also give sheriffs' investigators a smartphone application that, during investigations such as a sexual assault or missing person case, will allow the officer to search for sex offenders' addresses within a quarter-mile radius of the phone. Investigators who conduct onsite compliance checks will also be able to immediately update the status of a sex offender who is found to be non-compliant. The new information will upload directly to the state sex offender database.
*Partnership with U.S. Marshals Service: Agents with the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) Crimes Against Children Unit will work in coordination with the U.S. Marshals Service and local law enforcement to assist with locating and extraditing non-compliant offenders who, in the past, may not have been pursued due to budget limitations.
"Ohio has always taken an aggressive, proactive approach to developing tools, processes, and procedures for tracking and monitoring sex offenders," said DeWine. "We will now be even more efficient at keeping tabs on these convicted criminals living in Ohio's neighborhoods."
The new tracking efforts are expected to begin within the next several months, and are funded, in part, by a $269,842 Adam Walsh Act Implementation grant awarded by the Department of Justice's Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking Office (SMART).
The Attorney General made today's announcements as part of this year's Ohio Law Enforcement Conference in Columbus, which is a two-day event with 1,000 people, mostly Ohio law enforcement officers, in attendance.
The conference offers 30 workshops to attendees on topics such as gang activity, internet cafes, arson, and opiate abuse. A special breakout session, "Pursuing Child Predators: An Ohio Attorney General Crimes Against Children Symposium," will focus specifically on the theme of this year's conference: "Protecting Ohio's Children."
The symposium will update officers on new techniques, technology, and strategies for conducting investigations involving child victims.
The Attorney General's Crimes Against Children Unit, established last year, has conducted or assisted in 85 investigations to date.
Dan Tierney - 614-466-3840
Jill Del Greco - 614-466-3840