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Bill would make CP police reports public

Tom Jackson • Mar 18, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Records from Cedar Point’s police force aren’t as accessible to the public as reports from the Sandusky and Perkins police departments because Cedar Point is a private company.

But a bill in the Ohio House would change that.

House Bill 429 would require private police forces in amusement parks, college campuses, hospitals and other locations to make their records available under Ohio’s public records laws, just as government police departments do.

State Rep. Heather Bishoff, D-Blacklick, and state Rep. Michael Henne, R-Clayton, introduced the bill last month. It was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, where it already has received a hearing.

Bishoff said a little bit more than 30,000 police officers in Ohio have received training from courses supervised by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission. The officers have the power to seize property, detain people, conduct body cavity searches and use deadly force when necessary, she said.

Private police officers receive the same training and have the same powers, so they should also be subject to public records laws. If a citizen is arrested by a private police officer and his property is seized, he should have the right to obtain reports on the matter, Bishoff said.

She said private universities, hospitals and railroads with private police forces have asked if her bill would make private company information public. She said that’s not the intent of the bill.

“The only thing we’re interested in is Ohioans’ rights to public information” she said. The language in the bill is being rewritten to make that clear, she said. Cedar Point did not have any immediate comment on the bill Monday.

Bishoff said early prospects for the bill’s passage appear to be good.

“There’s been a lot of interest in it. Time will tell” she said. Bishoff said that as with her other legislation, she made a point of getting a Republican co-sponsor. “I really have no business trying to push a piece of legislation if I can’t gain the support of someone on the other side” she said.

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