Editorials From Around Ohio

Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

The (Canton) Repository, Jan. 21

There are only 39 private police forces in Ohio, but they are far more “private” under state law than they should be.

Police officers who work for private employers — hospitals, private universities, large companies — have the same powers as public police. The law allows them to carry handguns and to search, detain and arrest people.

Yet state law doesn’t require their conduct to be open to public scrutiny. That’s wrong, and it’s a situation the Legislature should change.

Advocates of more accountability have an ally in Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who wants the law to see these officers just as it does their public counterparts. …

No matter what legislators intended, what they’ve done is to give private police and their employers an unwarranted privilege of secrecy.

And virtually all are taking advantage of this privilege. …

Nothing in the law requires the records to be private — the employers could release them if they wished. Openness should be a requirement, not an option.

Police, whether public or private, are authorized to make life-or-death decisions. That’s a compelling reason for the Legislature to change the law, and soon.

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The Cincinnati Enquirer, Jan. 20

In a 1957 speech called “Give Us the Ballot,” the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. articulated why the right to vote is central to a person’s dignity and right to self-determination.

“So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote, I do not possess myself,” King said. “I cannot make up my mind — it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact — I can only submit to the edict of others.”

That sentiment is as true now as it was almost six decades ago. As we celebrate and remember King’s legacy, it reminds us that our right to vote must be monitored and protected, especially in a state as central to national elections as Ohio has become.

That’s why advocates should watch the bills under consideration in the General Assembly that could make it more difficult to cast a ballot. As we’ve said before, access to voting should be as wide as possible, restrained only by basic, reasonable defenses against fraud. …

The state needs uniform policies that govern elections in every county. It must also use technological advances and common sense to expand access to the ballot box, not restrict it. …

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Warren Tribune Chronicle, Jan. 19

Adults should do nothing that encourages juveniles to drink alcoholic beverages. Nothing. They also should not leave minors to sink or swim when they abuse alcohol, however.

That is the philosophy behind a bill introduced in the Ohio General Assembly. It would provide very limited immunity from prosecution for juveniles who seek help when they or others they are with consume so much alcohol they suffer medical emergencies.

The bill, HC 392, has bipartisan support. …

Under current law, juveniles have every reason to worry about what will happen to them if they call 911 to get help for someone who has consumed so much alcohol he needs medical treatment. In effect, such a call can amount to a confession to police that the caller — who may be the person in trouble — has broken the law. …

Some critics of the bill may argue it encourages juveniles to drink. That is doubtful. Sadly — often aided and abetted by adults — too many young Ohioans already abuse alcohol.

When they or their friends get into medical trouble, the proposal really could save lives.

Legislators should approve the bill and Gov. John Kasich should sign it into law.

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The (Tiffin) Advertiser-Tribune, Jan. 20

Protecting your credit today is of paramount importance.

Target announced it will offer one year of free credit monitoring to customers who had information compromised in the data breach and to all Target customers of U.S. stores.

Persons who suspect they may be part of that breach should follow suggestions being offered by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Those suggestions include checking credit card and debit card accounts regularly and monitoring accounts to look for suspicious activity. If errors are found, immediately notify your credit or debit card provider.

Change your personal information numbers and passwords for any affected accounts.

Watch for possible “phishing” scams designed to obtain additional personal or financial information. When a security breach is announced, scammers may create phony messages or websites to take advantage of consumers.

Place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. …

Corporations need to do more to protect the personal information of customers, but all consumers need to be vigilant in watching their accounts for suspicious activity and immediately notify banks or businesses so they can protect their valuable credit rating.

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