COLUMBUS, Ohio — "I think the first year went well," Governor Mike DeWine said to WCPO in an exclusive interview following his first year in office.
Before he was elected, DeWine said one of his main areas of focus was going to be kids. To that end, money was added to the foster care program and an initiative was launched to examine the program.
"I'd like to see every child in the state of Ohio have somebody who is their parent, somebody who is at least their mentor," DeWine said. "Someone they can rely on, someone who has their back. Someone who will love them and is there to take care of them. I think one of the real tragedies is that children are, quote, 'aging out' of foster care, which simply means that we have failed them, we never were able to provide them with permanent parents."
Before being elected to the office of governor, DeWine served as the Ohio attorney general. His office led the investigation into the Rhoden family murders in Pike County. Currently, four members of the Wagner family have been arrested and charged with those murders, but the prosecution has faced challenges. The Pike County Sheriff has been removed from office on unrelated charges and the lead investigator in the case was suspended on unconnected charges.
"The integrity of the investigation is certainly not in any jeopardy," DeWine said. "I've never seen officers be as professional and work as long and hard to deal with a difficult case. They did it. They're heroes. There were 100 people working on this case, but they're real heroes. They did what the public would expect them to do and went beyond the call of duty and I'm proud of them."
In August, DeWine was heckled while speaking at a prayer vigil for the mass shooting in the Oregon District of Dayton.
"What the people were saying is, 'Do something, do something, do something,' and while I was maybe surprised by that initially -- it was a prayer vigil -- as I stood there I thought, 'They have a right to be mad.'" DeWine said. "Ten people have lost their lives right there, right almost at this very spot. So I went back to my team and I said, 'Look, we've been working on some different bills, we've been working on some different things, let's push them together. Let's speed this up.'"
In DeWine's STRONG Ohio plan, penalties increase for anyone who provides a gun to someone who is legally prohibited from having one, and requires that certain types of protection orders and arrest warrants be reflected in state and federal law enforcement databases to ensure more accurate background checks.
"We're gonna pass this piece of legislation because it's the right thing to do," DeWine said. "It's gonna save a lot of lives. No guarantees it's gonna save us from every tragedy in the future, nobody can say that, but we've thought this thing through and it's gonna make a real difference."
So far, the bill has had three hearings in the Ohio State Senate.