Ohio State Senator Cecil Thomas, who earned his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Management in 2012, is a servant leader, influenced by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
In this video, Senator Thomas discusses the impact Dr. King had on his life and the importance of Black History Month.
Born in rural Alabama, Cecil came to Ohio as a young boy, and did not realize his potential to serve until he connected to a program that would provide college tuition if he went through police academy training. A 27-year veteran of the Cincinnati Police Department, Senator Thomas worked in every district, including all 52 Cincinnati neighborhoods. During his tenure, he worked on behalf of minorities and women, earning them the right to be promoted. He fought to increase minority representation, especially in policy-making decisions. His actions increased the percentage of African Americans and women on the force to 40 percent. He is credited with winning a federal ruling still in place today that mandates that the department’s demographic must mirror the city’s population.
As the head of the city’s Human Relations Commission from 2000 to 2005, Thomas instituted a community and police relations program, recognized as one of the top human relations organizations in the country. Focusing on repairing citizen/police relations across the city, he organized festivals in each police district, sponsored study circles for police officers and citizens to connect, and produced a public service announcement about what to do when stopped by the police. In 2001, when the city erupted in race riots after the killing by police of an unarmed black man, Thomas organized pastors and walked the streets with them, serving as a calming influence.
In 2005, he was elected to the Cincinnati City Council, where he created the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence, an anti-violence program credited with reducing homicides after an all-time high in 2006. The program reduced crime and improved community and police relations and is modeled nationally and internationally. He worked on voter suppression issues, and an environmental justice ordinance to monitor pollution.
Senator Thomas was elected to the Ohio Senate in 2014, representing Ohio’s 9th Senate district. He was elected Assistant Minority Leader by his peers and has been appointed to serve as ranking member of the Senate judiciary committee for the 133rd General Assembly. In addition he serves on the government oversight, health, insurance and local government committees.
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