New Legislation Allows Township Cops To Write Tickets On Highways
Bill asks townships to divert resources for state responsibility, says Boccieri

State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today expressed concern over House Bill (HB) 255, recently-introduced legislation that reduces the population threshold required for townships to make arrests and cite motorists on state highways. 

“By encouraging township officers to take over the State Highway Patrol’s responsibilities, HB 255 is yet another instance of the state burdening local governments with unfunded mandates,” said Boccieri. “This bill represents another tax shift to local communities by allowing them to perform law enforcement duties the state ordinarily conducts.” 

The 2015 Supreme Court case State of Ohio v. Brown held that townships with populations less than 50,000 lack the authority to perform law-enforcement duties on interstate highways. House Bill 255 that threshold to 5,000, opening up interstate jurisdiction to 24 Ohio township police departments, including Boardman, Canfield and Austintown. HB 255 allows officers to enforce a variety of driving laws, including speed limits, driving while texting, unreasonable control of a vehicle, lane travel, direction and turns. 

Boccieri expressed further concern that fines collected through traffic violations under the bill are placed in a road maintenance fund, creating a financial incentive for officers to pull people over. 

“The state shouldn’t place the responsibility of paving county roads on township cops,” said Boccieri. “Legislators need to do their job and help pave our roads – not shift that responsibility to local law enforcement.” 

The Poland lawmaker is also not confident that diverting local law enforcement resources away from township roads onto interstates will help combat the opioid epidemic, as has been suggested by the bill’s sponsor. 

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