Editorial roundup

The Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 7

Law-enforcement agencies shouldn’t be able, under the color of law, to appropriate an innocent person’s possessions – a nice car, cash in their wallet, their house – and then use it to enrich the agency.

But this is happening in Ohio and across the nation.

It’s called “civil-asset forfeiture.” Intended to stymie drug cartels and organized crime by stripping away their assets and infrastructure, it has become grossly misused by zealous law-enforcement officers …

The civil-asset forfeiture tactic is misused to seize property unrelated to a crime, or for crimes that are so minor or lacking in evidence that they aren’t prosecuted. If people want their property back, they must hire a lawyer and prove their innocence, upending the American justice system’s presumption of innocence.

An Ohio law should require a conviction before seizing property. It should insist on proportionality; property seized should relate to the crime. It should require record-keeping and public reporting. And it should remove any financial incentive for law enforcement. The Ohio legislature should put an end to state-sanctioned theft.

Online: http://bit.ly/1LTEG6y

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Sept. 3

The Republicans Ohioans have sent to Congress – Sen. Rob Portman and 12 of the state’s 16 U.S. House members, including House Speaker John Boehner – are demanding that the Obama administration reverse its decision to restore the historical name Mount Denali to the Alaska mountain long called Mount McKinley.

“McKinley” refers to William McKinley, an Ohio Republican who was president from 1897 until his 1901 assassination in Buffalo. McKinley had no connection with, nor had he visited, the mountain or for that matter Alaska.

Denali is the highest mountain in North America. On Aug. 28, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, an Obama appointee, changed the peak’s name to Denali. State officials in Alaska had requested the name change as long ago as 1975, Jewell said in her order …

Then again, thanks to Portman, Boehner and their allies, maybe America’s major challenges are behind us. Maybe the federal budget is balanced. Maybe the nearly 10,000 uniformed Americans posted in Afghanistan are no longer in harm’s way …

If so, have at it, gentlemen: Having solved so many of our other problems, the name of a mountain, thousands of miles from Ohio, deserves to be at the top of your agendas.

Online: http://bit.ly/1O8Qqo2

Akron Beacon Journal, Sept. 2

John Crawford III in Beavercreek, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati, all three black, all three unarmed, all three now dead, shot and killed by police officers. Ohio has had its own chapter of what has been a national drama that has included New York City, Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri …

Many communities, including Akron, already have such standards, and many exceed what the state has proposed. Yet that hardly diminishes what the advisory board has put forward. Its recommendations serve to establish a minimum expectation for police behavior. The panel offers a helpful measure against which police officers and departments can be assessed …

Police work is difficult. In that way, the work of the board complements the effort set in motion by Mike DeWine, the state attorney general, to help in upgrading the training of police officers across the state. What rings true in this context is that meeting the standards of the advisory board promises to make the work less burdensome for officers. They more likely will conduct themselves in a manner that oversight and accountability will find superior. These standards will make less likely the shooting of a John Crawford, Tamir Rice and Samuel DuBose, inviting greater trust in neighborhoods and stronger communities overall.