Private police should face scrutiny

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, January 22, 2014

There are only 39 private police forces in Ohio, but they are far more “private” under state law than they should be.

Police officers who work for private employers — hospitals, private universities, large companies — have the same powers as public police. The law allows them to carry handguns and to search, detain and arrest people.

Yet state law doesn’t require their conduct to be open to public scrutiny. That’s wrong, and it’s a situation the legislature should change.

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Advocates of more accountability have an ally in Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who wants the law to see these officers just as it does their public counterparts. …

No matter what legislators intended, what they’ve done is to give private police and their employers an unwarranted privilege of secrecy.

And virtually all are taking advantage of this privilege. …

Nothing in the law requires the records to be private — the employers could release them if they wished. Openness should be a requirement, not an option.

Police, whether public or private, are authorized to make life-or-death decisions. That’s a compelling reason for the legislature to change the law, and soon.


The (Canton) Repository


Right to vote

must be protected

In a 1957 speech called “Give Us the Ballot,” the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. articulated why the right to vote is central to a person’s dignity and right to self-determination.

“So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote, I do not possess myself,” King said. “I cannot make up my mind — it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact — I can only submit to the edict of others.”

That sentiment is as true now as it was almost six decades ago. As we celebrate and remember King’s legacy, it reminds us that our right to vote must be monitored and protected, especially in a state as central to national elections as Ohio has become.

That’s why advocates should watch the bills under consideration in the General Assembly that could make it more difficult to cast a ballot. As we’ve said before, access to voting should be as wide as possible, restrained only by basic, reasonable defenses against fraud. …

The state needs uniform policies that govern elections in every county. It must also use technological advances and common sense to expand access to the ballot box, not restrict it. …


The Cincinnati Enquirer