Ohio legislators have introduced a second bill aimed at making public the records of privately employed police officers, whose incident reports, arrest logs and other records have long been kept secret.
The more than 800 privately employed police officers — those working at private colleges, universities and other private or non-profit institutions — in Ohio are authorized to uphold and enforce the law, carry a gun and make arrests, but their records are not explicitly subject to public records law like all other sworn, commissioned officers’ are.
The bill, introduced by Reps. Heather Bishoff, D-Blacklick, and Michael Henne, R-Clayton, is a broader approach topreviously introduced House Bill 411, which would require most private school police forces to make their records public. The second bill would apply to all private police forces in the state.
“Our contention is that if you have been delegated the authority to make arrests as a public officer would, then you should have to abide by the rules that a public officer does,” Bishoff said.
HB 411, introduced last month by Rep. Bill Patmon, D-Cleveland, would only apply to private colleges and universities’ police if they have an agreement with local law enforcement to patrol off-campus, although Patmon said his original intention was for it to apply to all private forces.
“My intent is to make sure that not just hospitals and colleges, but anybody that hires a private police force — in fact, if we certify it as a government — should have public records,” Patmon said. “Once the state hands over that license to you and you become involved in policing either on campus or off, it’s the same thing to me.”