During last week's telephone town hall with constituents, GOP U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta said he would "never vote to defund our law enforcement departments and officers."
The "defund the police" movement sprang to life as protests against police brutality blossomed across the nation in the aftermath of the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man, while in the custody of a white police officer who held his knee on Floyd's neck as Floyd lost consciousness.
Proponents of "defund the police" efforts seem to favor reforms along a spectrum from completely disbanding police departments to redistributing some funding and current police responsibilities to social service and other agencies.
Congressional leaders are considering a variety of legislative actions in response to the protests and calls for police reform. Johnson's district includes Canfield, southern Mahoning County and Columbiana County.
Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has proposed a number of small police reforms since the protests began, including encouraging local police departments to become certified in state-established minimum standards regarding use of force and hiring practices.
While most Ohioans live in communities where police departments are certified in at least some of the guidelines, about half of the state’s local police departments have not acquired any type of certification, including a number of Mahoning Valley departments.
DeWine, who has indicated more state reform proposals are coming, has also announced the state would create create of standards for policing mass protests and a new Ohio Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment to recruit women and minorities to be police officers.
Reporter Jess Hardin contributed to this report.