Columbus — Records kept by private police forces at private colleges and businesses would be open to public scrutiny, under legislation being considered in the Ohio House.
HB 429 was offered by Reps. Heather Bishoff (D-Columbus) and Michael Henne (R-Clayton) after student journalists were denied access to police reports at a central Ohio college.
The bill is aimed at private colleges, banks, hospitals and others that hire private police officers to patrol their premises.
The officers have gone through the same training required of other law enforcement, carry firearms and have the ability to conduct searches and make arrests, Henne said.
Bishoff said more than 800 private police officers not required under existing state law to maintain incident reports or other records or provide information to the public on request concerning arrests and other activities.
“A felony is a crime against the public,” Henne said. “And if we’re giving these private police officers the same authority to represent the public by making the arrests, then the public needs to have the same ability to scrutinize their actions.”
He added, “When the private police officer is representing the public by arresting and detaining citizens, then the public not only has a right but they really have a duty to hold these police officers accountable.”
The legislation would exclude officers’ home addresses and other personal information, which is already exempt under existing state law from release.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.