XENIA — Gov. Mike DeWine met with area religious leaders at AHOP Monday to extend an outreach program he started to help combat the increasing drug problem.
“This is really a continuation of something I started when I was attorney general and we were dealing with this opium problem,” DeWine said before addressing the assembled group. “And we still are.”
It was the third such gathering since the Cedarville resident was elected governor and DeWine hopes to keep the lines of communication open between his office and those of religious leaders, whom he called a “central part” of the solution.
“They can reach people both in regard to education and when people are addicted,” DeWine said. “We’re going to continue to do these. It’s just a great exchange of ideas.”
DeWine brought members of cabinet and former Clark County prosecutor Andy Wilson to talk about criminal justice issues.
“It’s really an opportunity for me to introduce some of the members of the cabinet to the faith-based community.” DeWine added.
He said be it a church, mosque, or synagogue, faith-based organizations are in a “unique position” to help the criminal justice system. DeWine said when someone is released from prison they often times need a welcoming church or other religious organization.
“They need a community,” DeWine said.
DeWine also planned to touch on the STRONG Ohio legislation, which is currently in the Ohio Senate awaiting a vote. A reaction to the Oregon District shooting, the legislation would help to better protect citizens and law enforcement officers from those with a propensity toward violence and provide help to individuals who are a danger to themselves or others.
DeWine said an important aspect is getting the criminal justice system up to date. He cited an example of when an officer makes a traffic stop, the officer needs to know if there are warrants and if the drive is a violent offender.
“It’s a danger to police,” DeWine said. “That’s just a recipe for disaster.”
The bill would also:
— Create a process in Ohio law, similar to the current probate court process, that directs those suffering from severe mental health conditions into court-ordered treatment, to give hospitals and courts a better ability to help those who are legally declared to be a danger to themselves or others due to drug dependency or chronic alcoholism.
— Ensure that those legally declared by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others do not have access to firearms.
— Give family members of those who may be a danger to themselves or others because of drug dependency or chronic alcoholism the ability to more easily petition the probate court for court-ordered treatment.
— Create a new private-sale background check process that will increase the number of background checks conducted in Ohio while also protecting the privacy of law-abiding gun owners.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.