File-Protests and Ohio law enforcement

In this June 2, 2020 file photo, a protester voices her concerns to a Cleveland police officer during a rally for black lives in Cleveland. 

(The Center Square) – Only days into Ohio’s new legislative session, two Republican lawmakers introduced legislation that say would protect law enforcement officers throughout the state.

The bill, introduced Wednesday by State Reps. Jeff LaRe, R-Violet Township, and Shane Wilkin, R-Hillsboro, would add more to Ohio’s obstruction of justice law and make it a crime to interfere with the duties of a law enforcement officer after a lawful order is given.

“After seeing events that took place at the Ohio Statehouse last summer, and the events occurring across the country that threaten the public and law enforcement officers, it was clear to Rep. Wilkin and I that something needed to be done,” LaRe said. “It’s time that we protect the brave men and women who work to protect us every day.”

During the summer, in Columbus, protests centered around the downtown area, mostly at Capitol Square. Those protests were met with heavy police presence.

More than 100 businesses were vandalized, along with numerous government buildings. The city of Columbus enacted a curfew, and Gov. Mike DeWine called in the Ohio National Guard to maintain order.

Earlier this week, based on FBI warnings of armed protests planned for every state capitol in the nation beginning this weekend DeWine again activated the Ohio National Guard.

DeWine said 580 National Guard troops have been activated for training and to be prepared in case they are needed to police riots. An additional 200 troops will go to Washington, D.C. as the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden nears.

The threats come nearly a week after supporters of President Donald Trump invaded the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths.

Officials have said FBI reports say armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from this weekend through at least Jan. 20. The FBI also said additional threats have been made if Trump is removed from office before Jan. 20.

The bill before the General Assembly makes it illegal to fail to follow a lawful order from a law enforcement officer or divert a law enforcement officer’s attention.

“The purpose of this bill is to not only protect police officers that serve the public everyday but also to protect our citizens from any sort of harm,” Wilkin said. “Any legislation that protects the public and Ohio’s law enforcement officers is good policy in my book, and that’s exactly what this bill does.”

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.