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Candidate: Constitutional policing is the answer

Dear Editor,

The truth is some candidates talk about criminal justice reform, while others are actually engaged in it.

Almost 25 years ago, I found that my beliefs and values were taking me in a dedicated direction. I realized that doing the right thing for those accused of crimes was where my heart and soul were leading me in my law practice.

What I saw while defending the accused left me to wonder what had happened to the founding principles of our nation.

The cases I took on and the people I defended helped me to see we were heading away from justice and my work paved the way for the U.S. Department of Justice to find probable cause to come to Steubenville, Ohio.

I aided the agency in its investigation of alleged misconduct and brutality within the ranks of the Steubenville Police Department.

That was in 1997 and back then I knew it was the right thing to do, and today, I still know it was.

The consent decree entered into by the police department brought about many changes.

According to the Steubenville Herald Star, those include “policies regarding use of force, training requirements, internal affairs investigations, detention and arrests of suspects and how information is gathered and retained.”

In fact, Steubenville City Manager Jim Mavromatis recently acknowledged publicly how that consent decree helped to put policies in place that remain today, even though the consent decree ended in 2005.

My work would continue as I aided in securing a similar consent decree for the city of Warren, Ohio, in 2003.

The truth also is that some candidates promote a false narrative regarding accountability for police departments and the balance of power in their favor when it comes to minority communities. Any candidate for any office who tries to claim that supporters of criminal justice reform want to take money from police agencies are using an inaccurate portrayal to scare you into thinking we support lawlessness.

In no way would I advocate keeping money from safety forces, as was done by those who fought and defeated a tax levy to fund police in Steubenville. They’ve got it all wrong. This is about transformation and building police forces based on constitutional principles.

That transformation began in Steubenville in 1997, and my platform in running for state representative for eastern Ohio does include funding for first responders.

My record with criminal justice reform shows you my values. You can hear more about them by listening to my podcasts on Facebook. Let’s continue to transform and improve our police departments. That’s the least we can do for everyone who believes in justice for all.

Richard Olivito

Steubenville

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