Small-town Ohio police gain arrest power

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, January 30, 2017

A new Ohio law permits all township police to make arrests during traffic stops on local highways.

Ohio law has prohibited constables in townships with up to 50,000 residents from making arrests on portions of roadway in the national highway system that is not interstate highway.

Gov. John Kasich this month signed into law a bill to remove the population-based threshold to allow all township police the authority to make arrests on national highways that are not included in the interstate system. The affected roadway must be located within the territory of the officer.

Previously HB378, the new law takes effect April 6, 2017.

Republican Reps. Stephen Hambley of Brunswick and Jeffrey Rezabek of Clayton say the new law allows small townships the same jurisdictional rights as large townships on affected state highways.

Hambley previously noted during discussion on the bill that only seven of the state’s 1,308 townships have a population of more than 50,000. He said police in the other 1,300 townships are forbidden to make arrests.

“Our bill will go a long way in empowering township officers to arrest drunk drivers and fight drug and human trafficking in Ohio,” Hambley said in written remarks.

Rezabek added that the new law empowers township officers to go ahead and make an arrest without being required to wait for a state trooper or county sheriff to show up.

Critics have raised concern that removing the population threshold could result in township speed traps on busy roadways.

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