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August 20, 2018

Shielding Our Protectors

Ohio Conference Wrapup - Elections & Endorsements
Posted On: Jul 26, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I want to start off this letter to the membership by introducing myself as your new Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio President.   I have been an active FOP member for close to 40 years.   I have served as my local lodge President in Cuyahoga County (Lodge 67) for 11 years and as the Ohio FOP Vice President for the past 8 years before being elected as Ohio FOP President on July 24, 2018 at our 84thAnnual Conference.    A strong team of leaders has been elected to lead the 25,000+ members of the Ohio FOP for the next two years.   They are listed here:

President Gary Wolske - Garfield Heights (retired)
Vice President Jason Pappas - Columbus Division of Police
Secretary Eric Lehnhart - Ohio Attorney General's Office
Treasurer Greg Toyeas - Cincinnati Division of Police
2nd Vice President Derric McDonald - Dayton Police Department
Sgt. at Arms Bill Saringer - North Olmsted Police
Immediate Past President Jay McDonald - Marion Police
1st District Trustee Troy Mineard - Akron Police
2nd District Trustee Marc Lautenschleger - Dover Police (retired)
3rd District Trustee Jim Fitsko - Marion Police
4th District Trustee Tom Porter - Zanesville Police
5th District Trustee Mike Galbraith - Dayton Police (retired)
6th District Trustee Mike Watkins - Lima Police (retired)
7th District Trustee Damian Glaser - Cleveland Police
8th District Trustee Steve Fioritto - Lakewood Police
9th District Trustee Jon Halusek - Cincinnati Division of Police
10th District Trustee Aaron Bramel - Ohio Department of Veterans Services
11th District Trustee Travis Parker - Columbus Division of Police

I also want to let you know who the 320 delegates to the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio Conference endorsed for Statewide Political Offices and explain what I think are the reasons why.  

Governor – Rich Cordray

  • As a legislator, Rich sponsored the bill that made the killing of a law enforcement officer on duty a death penalty specification in Ohio criminal law.  He also worked closely with the FOP to enact measures that made stalking a crime, reformed juvenile justice, tightened the entrapment defense, and clarified Ohio law on the death penalty.
  • As an attorney, Rich represented law enforcement officers in the U.S. Supreme Court and secured an important precedent (Wilson vs. Layne) that made it much harder to sue a police officer personally for how the performed their responsibilities on the job.
  • As State Treasurer, Rich made sure that the FOP had representation on the pension board with his appointment.

  • As Attorney General, Rich worked with the law enforcement community on a number of fronts:

  • Rich cleaned up problems at the Peace Officer Training Academy, ensured FOP representation in its decisions, and overhauled the curriculum to include CIT training for the first time.
  • Rich made new technology available to local law enforcement, putting the powerful Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway search engine in the hands of officers on the street.
  • Rich represented the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund against abuses by Wall Street, ultimately recovering $2 billion for Ohio retirees, including law enforcement officers.
  • During the budget crisis, Rich secured over $4 million in drug abuse prevention funds for 200 local law enforcement agencies – funding that saved jobs in many parts of Ohio.
  • Rich chaired the task force on the role of the Ohio Highway Patrol and stood strongly for the traditional principles of local law enforcement in Ohio with state support and assistance but not with state control. 
  • Rich consulted with the FOP, allowing input and influence into numerous leadership positions within the Office of the Attorney General.   He will do the same as Governor.   
  • Rich had an outstanding relationship with the FOP members who worked at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, meeting with them and making himself available to discuss issues.   He has promised the same access as Governor.   

Rich’s running mate, Betty Sutton, also has a long history of working and fighting for Ohio's law enforcement community. As a union-side labor lawyer, Betty represented police officers and other workers fighting for good wages, benefits, fair treatment and safe working conditions. In Congress, she fought for expanded funding for the COPS Improvement Act and brought back federal funds for needed equipment to local police departments. During the recession, Betty worked with the Obama administration to include funding for teachers, police, and fire fighters in the Recovery Act. She was also a co-sponsor of the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007, which protected collective bargaining rights for public safety officers employed by state or local governments. And Betty fought shoulder-to-shoulder alongside members of the FOP to stop the attacks on collective bargaining and help lead the fight to overturn SB5.

And they will stand strongly against Right to Work by any means it is brought forward in Ohio. Some have said that Right to Work “is not on their agenda.” It IS on THEIR agenda and their position is loud and clear, publicly and privately, that they are AGAINST Right to Work in every form. They will oppose Right to Work both in the legislature and if it is ever placed on the ballot. Under the leadership of Rich Cordray and Betty Sutton, Ohio will never become a right-to-work state and they will veto any further attempts to weaken our collective bargaining rights.

Cordray and Sutton will work to ensure that PTSD is treated like the on-the-job injury it is for our so many of our members and that it will be covered by the Bureau of Workers Compensation.     

Cordray and Sutton will fight to restore local government funding, that was cut in half by the Kasich administration.    This action has led to thousands of less law enforcement officers in the State of Ohio and our cities and counties are paying the price with local taxes having to be raised to try to fund the essential services we provide.   This impacts our pension systems as well, if less officers are paying into the systems, the less stabile they are. 

Attorney General – Steve Dettlebach

  • A prosecutor for more than 20 years, Steve has prosecuted some of the most serious crimes our state has seen over that time period
  • Steve will fight to ensure that our members who experience the devastating effects of PTSD are properly cared for by the State of Ohio: “The psychological trauma first responders are exposed to in the line of duty can have devastating effects; first responders have suicide rates more than ten times higher than the general public. Yet when a first responder suffers from PTSD on-the-job, Ohio withholds workers’ compensation benefits unless there is also a physical injury. That policy fails to fully recognize the sacrifices first responders make to keep our families safe. The dangers that first responders face are simply different from most others, and we should recognize that fact. Steve will work to make that fact a legal reality.”
  • The use of casino training funds by the Governor and the AG has long been a sore spot for the Ohio FOP.   Steve will make sure that those dollars are spent training our members, not just some but all law enforcement officers deserve access to those training resources. “In 2018, Statehouse politicians gave no funding at all for local police training. That’s absurd. We can’t expect police to do their job if we fail to give them the resources they need. Ohio needs to fulfill its commit to police and provide them adequate funding for training. We also need to examine how, and where, we deliver police training, and we need to better seek the input of everyone, including officers themselves, to do it. The challenges facing police are not the same in every community. And our police training should reflect the unique challenges different communities face. As Attorney General, Steve will work with local law enforcement leaders, officers, and community members to ensure that when we train police, we are training them on the skills they actually need to serve their communities.”
  • Steve wants to make tuition reimbursement a standard benefit for law enforcement. “Tuition reimbursement is available to a select few law enforcement officials employed by the state and certain communities. As Attorney General, Steve will work with state and local leaders to identify ways to expand the number of Ohio law enforcement officials with access to tuition assistance. Making higher education more accessible will help police officers who make that choice to develop their skills, lengthen their careers, and enhance their promotability. Ultimately, it will make our communities safer by attracting and retaining police.”
  • Steve wants to make law enforcement safer and more efficient by promoting information sharing.  “Across the state, police use several different computer databases to store information about the crimes they investigate. But these databases are not all linked with each other, making it harder for police to solve crimes across jurisdictions and to understand trends in criminal behavior. As U.S. Attorney, Steve was a leader in developing data-driven policing models as head of the Northern Ohio Violent Crime Consortium. As Attorney General, Steve is committed to giving law enforcement the tools they need to keep us safe. He will convene a Law Enforcement Technology Task Force, comprised of both law enforcement and IT experts, to identify gaps in Ohio’s criminal-data systems, and to find best practices in data-sharing that police can use across the state. That way, our police will have the 21st Century tools they need to work in concert, quickly gather information, and keep our communities safe.”
  • Steve will be a vocal opponent of so-called Right to Work and other attempts to weaken our collective bargaining rights.   Steve believes in our members having a voice in the workplace, including our members who work at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
  • Steve strongly believes in local law enforcement in the State of Ohio and having State law enforcement act in a support role and not expanding powers or jurisdiction for those agencies.

Secretary of State - Frank LaRose 

  • Frank LaRose has been a go-to legislator for the FOP of Ohio, sponsoring our PTSD legislation and many other pieces of legislation since 2010.
  • Frank is a vocal opponent of so-called right to work and has promised to continue to support the labor rights we currently have
  • Frank has an understanding of our profession due to his years as a soldier in the U.S. Army Special Forces
  • Frank will maintain an open door to the FOP and consult us on issues of public safety and public sector labor
  • Frank was viewed by the Political Screening Committee as a rising star in Ohio politics

Auditor of State - Zach Space

  • Zach impressed the committee with his independence from his political party
  • Zach is a strong opponent of all attempts to weaken collective bargaining rights
  • Zach said he would ensure that casino training funds are spent according to the Ohio Constitution
  • Zach had strong support from his local area FOP members

Treasurer of State – Rob Richardson

  • Rob is a charismatic speaker who impressed the committee with his openness to work with the FOP
  • Rob promised to seek FOP input on his selection of a Board member for the Ohio public pension systems
  • Rob has fiduciary experience has the former President of the Board at the University of Cincinnati, is a card carrying member of the Laborer’s Union and an attorney.  

Ohio Supreme Court – Melody Stewart and Michael Donnelly

  • Each impressed the committee with their commitment to follow the law regardless of political inference
  • Each had a solid record of legal opinions and work that matches our priorities
  • Each pledged to consult with the FOP on task forces and work groups involving public safety and public sector labor
  • Each supports the rights of our members to collectively bargain

United States Senator – Sherrod Brown

  • Sherrod is the lead sponsor on the bill to remove the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision that reduces your (and often your spouses) Social Security benefits by up to 60%
  • Sherrod was a sponsor of the legislation that mandated certain studies and actions by the Federal Government with regard to PTSD for law enforcement
  • Sherrod is a lead sponsor of the bill giving all law enforcement officers across the country collective bargaining rights and supports our due process bills.   He is a vocal opponent to Right to Work and other attempts to weaken workers’ rights, such as the FLSA and FMLA, etc…
  • Sherrod has worked with the Ohio FOP and the National FOP on numerous pieces of legislation regarding the opiate epidemic
  • Sherrod supported increasing grant funding to hire, equip and train law enforcement officers in the State of Ohio
  • Sherrod supported increasing the Pell Grant eligibility for the children of our fallen members
  • Sherrod is the leader in attempting to get access to Medicare at age 55 for first responders.   This is the single biggest thing that could help with the ever increasing costs of retiree health care.
  • Our leadership has regular access and influence with Sherrod and Senator Brown has pledged that will continue into his next term.   

Our endorsements will never please all of our members and that is more than OK.   Our members are a diverse group, often with personal beliefs that extend beyond the priorities of the organization.   However, the FOP is not a Democrat or a Republican organization and we must support those who support our priorities.   Those you elected to represent you at the conference, the local lodge delegates and the Board of Trustees from the State Lodge, considered all of the information provided by each candidate and the information provided by the membership when making these endorsements.   Each endorsed candidate received in excess of the 60% of the vote needed to issue the endorsement from the delegates, many of them received more than 90% of the vote of the delegates.   

We hope you keep these endorsements in mind when you head to the polls.   If you disagree with the endorsements (as is your absolute right), please know that no FOP member dues are used to financially support any political candidate.   We will always have much more in common, as law enforcement officers, than we will ever have in opposition to each other over political beliefs.  

As always, I want to have an open dialogue with the membership and I am available to try to help in any way possible.   You can reach me at GWolske@fopohio.org, please do not hesitate to reach out to me if I can be of assistance.

Fraternally,

Gary Wolske

President – FOP of Ohio


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