COLUMBUS (WKBN) – State Representative Gilson Blair (D-Weathersfield) announced Friday the passage of House Bill 539, his bipartisan legislation with Rep. Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) to allow township police to enforce traffic laws on interstate highways.
“This bill will allow township police departments to work with the Highway Patrol to devise strategies to prevent and reduce the number of accidents on dangerous roadways,” Blair said. “Allowing these departments jurisdiction will enhance safety to the public and our first responders, and will open doors for cooperation which have previously been locked shut. This bill will save lives in Trumbull and Mahoning County on both Interstate 80 and 76 in the ODOT distracted driving corridor.”
Lawmakers say allowing township police on highways would help keep drivers safe and would support the state patrol.
Township police could pull cars over for speeding or dangerous driving, but wouldn’t get any money from the tickets.
“The Highway Patrol does a great job but sometimes due to the absolute large geographic area that they cover, they can’t be there as quickly as some of these local police agencies could,” Blair said.
Currently, townships with populations of less than 50,000 have no jurisdiction to make arrests or issue traffic tickets on the interstate highway system.
This bill would allow township officers with populations greater than 5,000 but less than 50,000 — if authorized by motion of their trustees — to make arrests for traffic violations occurring on interstate highways within their territorial jurisdictions.
After passing the Ohio House, HB 539 goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.