Legislation sponsored by State Representative Stephen Hambley (R-Brunswick) that will help local government officials better address public safety needs received Governor John Kasich’s signature yesterday, enacting the bill into law.

House Bill 378 eliminates provisions of current law that prohibit a township officer from making an arrest on a highway that is part of the national highway system, with the exception of an interstate highway. The bill, which Hambley joint-sponsored with Rep. Jeff Rezabek (R-Clayton), is an effort to allow small townships the same jurisdictional rights as large townships on state highways that are included in the national highway system.

“House Bill 378 is not expanding the powers of townships, but rather, reinstates the authority that several of our local townships lost on portions state highways like US 42, SR 18 and SR 57 running through their townships,” said Hambley.
Ohio wants safer roads. As one of the township officers testifying in support of H.B. 378 before the committee stated, “Stopping those who drive intoxicated, those who traffic illegal drugs, those who transport stolen property, those who engage in human trafficking, and many other criminal acts is essential for the safety and wellbeing of our communities. This effort is even more important as the heroin epidemic ravages our state and human trafficking is on the rise across our country.”

Currently, a township officer has arrest authority with regard to vehicle-related offenses on state highways or U.S. highways if the population served is greater than 50,000 people. The Ohio State Highway Patrol and county sheriffs generally have exclusive jurisdiction to those offenses committed on state highways outside of municipal corporations.

House Bill 378 eliminates the population-based restriction, granting township police officers that serve in a township with 50,000 people or less to make an arrest on state and U.S. highways. House Bill 378 does not grant the power to arrest on interstates to township officers serving a population of less than 50,000.

Legislation goes into effect 90 days after the governor’s signature.

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