Back in February we highlighted Kasich’s anti-crime agenda. The two key components were: stern warnings and a bill to make hidden compartments in cars illegal.
First, the signs. By now, everyone has seen them. The problem is that there is no evidence that they have led to any actual, you know, arrests.
If the signs had worked, the Highway Patrol would be bragging about it. The Highway Patrol puts out a ton of press releases highlighting major drug busts. Heck, the Highway Patrol earlier this month “invited” the public and the media to follow a new class of cadets “through their intensive para-military style training” on the Highway Patrol’s Youtube Channel.
The patrol loves self-promotion, and they never miss a change to talk up their successes. The fact that there is no press release about these new signs leading to an arrest seems like pretty good evidence that the $20K they spent on the signs might have been better used elsewhere.
Second, the hidden compartments bill. We thought this was a dumb idea for many reasons, but mainly because a lot of folks have legitimate uses for secret compartments. Yesterday we learned that pro-gun groups like the NRA successfully convinced the bill’s sponsor to make some changes. (BTW, the headline in the Dispatch was intriguing although inaccurate: “Car’s secret compartment OK, if it’s for a gun.”)
The new bill is now officially worthless from any practical standpoint. According to news reports, two changes were made.
First, the bill would not exempt hidden containers that are manufactured or advertised to be used to secure valuables, electronics or guns in vehicles. The problem: drug traffickers now know that they are in the clear if the hidden compartment is “advertised” for a legitimate use.
Second, the revised bill will require prosecutors to prove that hidden compartments are used with the intent to transport drugs. This is actually a good idea. The problem: Ohio already has a criminal tools statute that allows prosecution in that circumstance.
The Republican plan to stop drug trafficking has been revealed as nothing but grandstanding. They should stop.
You know what stops drug traffickers? Cops on the street. Maybe instead of wasting time with signs and worthless laws, Kasich and the Republicans could restore funding that local governments need for law enforcement and public safety – cuts that have led to cuts in public safety services.