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After declaring racism a public health crisis, county working toward change

Posted at 4:50 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 21:11:22-05

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio — In July, the Hamilton County Commission officially declared racism a public health crisis. Now, the commission is working to make sure the promise of addressing that doesn't go unfulfilled.

The original resolution declaring that racism is a public health crisis outlined the effects racism has on local communities and populations of color and laid out three specific areas in which the county planned to take action: implicit bias training, studying those health disparities more thoroughly and expanding inclusion.

Steps toward increasing implicit bias training throughout the county starts with a new partnership formed between Hamilton County and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

"It's going to take some time," said Woody Keown, president of the museum. "But the main thing I see is a different level of commitment."

Keown said the steps the county has taken to increase bias training for leadership roles is a major step toward ensuring policies and resources are allocated fairly, without any racial bias.

"If those services are not provided or there are systemic issues around racism or whatever the case might be, involved in how the services are provided ... that creates a perpetual problem that needs to be resolved," he said.

For Keown, tackling racism in Hamilton County is crucial and he's hopeful the changes the county are implementing will be impactful.

Eighty senior-level staff members for the county will start the bias training in late January or early February.

The training isn't just tailored for the county ranks, though.

"This is going to be something that we've never seen before," said Major Earl Price with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

The county Sheriff's office will undergo training called ABLE, or Active By-Standership for Law Enforcement. The program prepares deputies to intervene in order to prevent misconduct and mistakes.

"You're going to have officers that are going to be looking out for each other to save lives, to protect the safety of that officer," said Price. "To make sure that officer is doing the right thing. And not covering up for something that is wrong. That's something we should've had years ago."

Right now, four deputies are trained ABLE instructors and they'll begin training the rest of the department later in December.