John Kasich gave a speech at the Highway Patrol Academy announcing a couple of law enforcement initiatives.  The Dispatch obliged with a positive headline:  “State takes aim at drug trafficking.”

According to a longer article in the Dispatch, Kasich is pushing two new law enforcement initiatives:  (1) a new law making it a felony to own a vehicle with concealed compartments; and (2) “severe warning signs” on highways to deter drug dealers.

Both ideas are nuts and are unlikely to remove any illegal drugs from the streets.

The law making it a felony to own a vehicle with concealed compartments has a number of problems.  We will have to wait until we get the exact language from Senator Hughes, to be sure, but the idea by itself is unnecessary and seems more like likely to target innocent Ohioans than drug dealers.  The law is unnecessary because Ohio law already prohibits the possession of “criminal tools.”  R.C. 2923.24.

A “criminal tool” is anything that can be used in the commission of a crime.  But the important thing about the current law is that the prosecution must prove that you actually intended to commit a crime before you can be convicted.

Kasich’s proposed law seems to stand this basic principle of criminal law – intent – on its head.  It seems that merely having a secret compartment in a car – no matter what the reason – would be a crime.  The author of this post has a hidden compartment to store some expensive golf clubs in his car; I keep them there because I like to store the clubs in my car, but sometimes park in not so nice neighborhoods and don’t want to invite someone to break into my car to steal them.  Now – I am committing a felony just by having the secret compartment?  What about the hunter who stores ammunition in a secret compartment in a car?  Also a felon.

Another problem with removing intent from the law will be that innocent borrowers of a car with a secret compartment could be prosecuted.  Let’s imagine that son has a pickup with a secret compartment for transporting drugs.  Son lends the car to his grandmother so she can move her belongings.  If grandmother is stopped and the police discover the compartment, grandmother is heading to prison for up to 18 months, even if no drugs are present and she didn’t know about the compartment.

The Dispatch article suggests that perhaps only “owning” a car with a secret compartment is a crime.  Anyone who knows anything about how drug couriers operate knows this is completely useless.  Drug couriers often use borrowed, stolen or rental cars.  It would be extremely rare for a drug courier to use his or her own vehicle.

But the secret compartment provision is nowhere near as useless as the idea of putting up “severe warning signs.”  How many drug couriers will be deterred from traveling Ohio’s Interstate’s because a sign at the border warns them that they are committing a crime?  Seriously?  Does Kasich truly believe that signs are all we need to deter crime?  Instead of spending all of that money on extra security at his house, perhaps Kasich should have just put up a sign saying, “Severe Consequences for Assaulting the Governor.”

Kasich’s next drug crime fighting proposal:  hire skywriters to say, “don’t do drugs.”  That will certainly bring down drug trafficking in Ohio.

But why stop there.  Kasich’s idea has all sorts of practical uses.  I suggest we can stop kids from peeing in the pool by putting up signs saying “Don’t urinate in the water or you will get in severe trouble.”  I hope in the comments readers will suggest other crimes that can be deterred through this cost effective system.

  • Troysteelerfan

    I don’t know this might work….I mean after all …no one speeds since the speed limit signs are posted all over the place…oh wait…never mind…bad example….okay, I got it…the students in my room never break any rules cause the rules are clearly posted at the front of the room….oh wait..that’s not a good example either….okay how about this….oh screw it …this is just another dumb as* idea from the king of all dumb as* ideas

  • Debbie Rudy-Lack

    I like the idea about puttin’ up a sign @ the kasich house….I about fell outta my chair laughin’…..thanks PB, you gave me the BEST laugh of the day!  Other than that….this guy is a wackadoodle!

  • guest

    I work in Law Enforcement and completely agree with the above.

  • Oh. no secret compartments? Even if they r not meant to be secret? I own a vehicle with roll bars…soft top…has zippers to protect roll bars, n passengers heads in case there head comes in contact with the roll bar…Your article got me thinkn…what makes a compartment secret? Is it considered a secret compartment if the drivers completely unaware that its a compartment and where it is? I dont know about u but..I get in my car, I drive, lug stuff around in it…put gas in it, wash it….When u get clarification on what the definition is of a secret compartment..or who it has to be secret from to be considered a secret compartment…could u provide a link please?One other question, sdo, on a scooter, or motorcycle, items are locked in the’s like a glove box on a bike…is that considered a secret compartment as well?

    In regards to the signs…to deter criminals, will they be streaming? digital? Will they have audio?

    I realize that prisons are going private, n now that they will be unable to arrest teachers or any other worker  4striking..not that theres been one in decades, seems a little extreme just so his buddies can make a little money…Seems odd that they are workn on legislation allowing you to carry a loaded gun in State House garage, bars, as long as u dont drink, and other public establishments.

    So, why aren’t we spendn the money ON EDUCATING our communities regarding drugs…all that money spent on signs, on every road of Ohio’s gotta be expensive. but clearly, signs might work…the signs worked on him n the paid off legislators..STOP THE ATTACK ON MIDDLE CLASS!..It’s appearred to deter them a little bit…So, do legislators have to follow these laws too, or ARE THEY EXEMPT from all these as well?

    When is he going to start creatn jobs? Secret compartments? Signs? 18 months in prison for just having what they consider a secret compartment? That could be anything..door panels, spare tire, light, under seat, ..gear shift cover, I am so hoping they provide a detailed list of what would be considered a secret compartment in a vehicle…Curious as to how long it will take them to go thru the different car makes and models, and Im sure the debate will heat up over whats secret, n whats not?  Bizarre….

  • Well Officer, was wondering how you feel about the bill they are passing regarding at a traffic stop they dont have to tell you they have a loaded/concealed gun anymore? Honestly? I do not like that at all. Nor do I like guns in bars, schools, churches, day cares…sure wish they’d spend some time creatn jobs…Im such a wackadoodle…this is creatn jobs…making signs, hangn the signs, …now the car manufacturers will have to hire someone or put more labels in the cars…to point out..”Just a glove box..” Not a secret compartment…Sure hope they have a list, so its not used as a ploy to just go through citizens vehicles and then claiming , because of a loophole a slot in a CD player, n the space behind its considered a secret compartment…if not..lotta private owned prisons will b full…Hmm..too bad they dont have that law in Georgia..the legislators who have privatized jails were throwing around the idea of having 1 firefighter in charge of prisoners…n then saving money by having the prisoners be supervised n trained by the firefighter and let them put out the fires…would save alotta money..accordn to Georgias Governor…anyone hear if they r still thinkn about that or have they dropped it?

  • Debbie Rudy-Lack

     Well then guest….as a law enforcement officer, please explain how these 2 pieces of legislation are going to make your job a bit easier & safer?  Or for that matter, how are they going to make OH safer?

  • Annekarima

    What do you call an elephant that doesn’t matter?


  • Amyvav

    Well, guest… Federal law enforcement conducts controlled tails of loads of drugs all the way from the Mexican border to Columbus because it’s such a major hub due to the convergence of the interstate highways. Do you really think that someone who just risked crossing a heavily controlled national border is gonna turn their big ole’ tractor tractor full of merchandise around when they get to the Ohio border and see a sign telling them it’s a no-no????? I’m pretty sure the cartels are a little scarier that you and Mr. Kasich.

  • Blandser77

    may I be so bold to suggest he was agreeing with the writer of the article, not Gov Kasich? Anybody with a few weeks of street experience in law enforcement can see this is a ridiculous idea and a waste of time. 

  • Blandser77

    SO ironic that Gov Kasich wants to put up signs that inform people of the new state law, when he himself called a cop an idiot for enforcing a state law that is one of the few with posted signs describing it. I’m talking about the big  highway signs that say “Move over or slow down for stopped emergency vehicles”.

    I agree 100% with the authors comments. Just having a concealed compartment is not basis to arrest somebody. Like he said “Criminal Tools” already covers this issue, and quite well.

  • DrMichael

    Not to mention the fact that he hates cops and decided to punish all cops (along with the rest of Ohio) just because he got a ticket!! Ironic much?

  • DrMichael

    Glove boxes themselves could be considered “secret” under this new regulation! It’s the Republicans that put more unnecesary law on the books than Democrats, despite their outcry against that very thing! The only law they want to take off the books are the laws that regulate their illegal activities and that of their billionaire cronies and corporate honcho friends! We need a petition to stop this one. Again.

  • DrMichael


  • DrMichael

    Sign idea is a bit off-base. More like, “Severe consequences for voting in a Republican Governor!” If only signs really did work…

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