CLEVELAND, OH – The state’s lawmakers made it clear to individuals applying for public jobs as employees of the Ohio Highway Patrol that their law enforcement duties in Title 55 of the revised code were limited to enforcing laws and investigating accidents “outside municipal corporations” on the state’s roads and highways. They have authority to patrol roads and investigate accidents in townships.
Two sections of R.C. 5503.02 gives them the authority to enforce “criminal laws” inside municipal corporations. One is only at the request of the county’s sheriff or a mayor whose city was facing riot, insurrection or civil disorder. Even if the sheriff or mayor asks the governor for help, the troopers can’t act until the governor assigns them to a specific area and until the riot, insurrection or civil disorder is over.
The second section of R.C. 5503.02 authorizing highway patrol law troopers to enforce laws inside municipal corporations is when a cop on the streets is in an emergency and asks for it.
Last spring EJBNEWS launched an investigation to learn how OHP employees ended up making criminal arrests on private property and on city streets in Cleveland’s predominantly black neighborhoods without a request of Mayor Frank jackson or Sheriff Clifford Pinkney; and being assigned by then Governor John Kasich.
Peter Casey, an attorney with the Ohio Department of Public Safety, confirmed that no Cuyahoga County mayor or sheriff had asked the governor for help. Casey also confirmed that then Superintendent Paul Pride did not “assign” troopers to conduct “criminal patrols” on Cleveland’s residential streets. R.C. 5503.02(D)(1) prevented any officer of the state from giving an unlawful order to troopers.
The only authorizing source of the troopers’ criminal patrol presence in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County appears to be a memo Casey provided to EJBNEWS that was implemented by state employees Darren Huggins and Neil Laughlin. The memo claimed the Ohio Highway Patrol would “partner” with the Cuyahoga County sheriff’s office, Cleveland Police Department, DEA, US Marshal’s, ATF and the Ohio Investigative Unit to conduct their “Criminal Patrol Operations” inside the municipal corporation of Cleveland in four police districts.
The language of the authorizing memo described a series of planned unconstitutional and conspiratorial acts troopers would engage in during what the two bad lieutenants described as their “Criminal Patrol Operations.”
Uniformed officers will work in tandem with plain clothes/undercover officers. Marked vehicles will focus on traffic enforcement, looking beyond the stop, and identifying criminal activity, as well as enforcing OVI and seat belt violations. Plain clohtes/undercover element will provide intelligence on areas of violent crimes, drug/criminal activity, and conduct surveillance in areas where criminal activity exists.”
No “partnership agreements” as described in the memo Huggins and Laughlin used to guide their conduct were approved by the federal, state, county or city officials authorized to enter them. Mayors in cities are the chief law enforcement officers and administrative contract signing authority; but only after that official asks council through a resolution for the authority to first negotiate and then enter it.
No law gives a chief of police, commander, captain, lieutenant, sergeant or patrol officer the authority to enter a contract or “partnership” that binds a city. Huggins and Laughlin had no authority as state employees to negotiate agreements that “partnered” with any of the public governments they wrongly-described as mere “agencies.” Partnership agreement negotiations are not within the job descriptions of trooper lieutenants.
EJBNEWS obtained a master list of all OHP policies approved by the Superintendent and could find none that identified a procedure or process for “Criminal Patrol Operations” within municipal corporations.
The state’s general assembly, in ratifying the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, placed the enforcement of federal, state and local criminal laws under the authority of municipal police in R.C. 737.11. Municipal police jurisdiction runs concurrent or is superior to any outside law enforcement agency.
EJBNEWS learned from Ohio Department of Transportation spokesperson Erica Hawkins that the agency sees highways “inside municipal corporations” as being under the care, maintenance, control and policing of the municipal corporation. ODOT funds are not allocated to maintain or police highways inside municipal corporations. ODOT officials use R.C. 723.01 to separate the lines of authority between the state and municipal corporations for streets identified as “State Routes.”
Each approved policy of the Superintendent corresponds with a section in Chapter 4501 of Ohio’s Administrative Code (OAC) as it describes the specific duties of the public employees employed to limit their conduct to the performance of the duties of troopers found in R.C. 5503. EJBNEWS could find no such corresponding OAC section that supported the “Criminal Patrol Operations” the two lieutenants appear to have created and orchestrated on their own; and outside the state’s general laws.
The net effect of Huggins and Laughlin’s individual acts is a suspension of R.C. 5503.02 that violates Section 1.18 of Ohio’s constitution “suspension of laws.”
“No power of suspending laws shall ever be exercised, except by the general assembly.
What the two “bad lieutenants” also did by acting outside the authority of troopers was remove their “qualified immunity” liability for any claim against the state and city for their unlawful conduct.
Thousands of Cleveland and surrounding city residents have expressed anger at the illegal trooper patrols inside municipal corporations and on residential streets. News reports have shared coverage of reckless high speed chases through densely-populated residential streets over minor misdemeanor offenses that have resulted in injuries to innocent bystanders, the chased motorists, troopers and damaged city property.
On June 6, 2018 the troopers Huggins and Laughlin supervised attempted to stop a man for reckless driving along on Harvard Avenue that resulted in a high speed chase, with a helicopter Huggins ordered, to follow him to a utility pole at E. 105th Street and Superior Avenue. Cocaine was found in his vehicle but it wasn’t the reason for the attempted trooper stop on city-owned Harvard Avenue. Two other cars were involved in the crash. City property was damaged in the wild trooper pursuit through the city’s densely-populated residential streets.
On August 28, 2018 troopers chased a man along Euclid and Cliffview Avenue between Cleveland and East Cleveland that crashed into a school bus.
On November 9, 2018 troopers on Superior and E. 75th Street attempted to stop and then chased a man driving without his headlights that ended up in a two-car crash with two victims.
Troopers were involved in a high speed pursuit that originated on I-77 when one attempted to pull over a woman for an alleged minor misdemeanor “window tint” violation that state law really put on the backs of car manufacturers and sellers. The troopers are profiling motorists by pulling up alongside them to see if they can identify their images through the tint; and using it as the basis for a traffic stop that endangers them and others on interstates. It’s done so they can use the stop to look beyond it as a reason for look for “criminal activity” as the Patrol Assignment described.
Critics have accused Huggins and Laughlin of supervising troopers who are operating like racist vigilantes inside the predominantly African American neighborhoods they’ve targeted for unconstitutional law enforcement acts.
EJBNEWS confirmed that the only law enforcement assistance Mayor Frank Jackson sought was from the U.S. Department of Justice when he asked federal prosecutors on March 14, 2013 to investigate Cleveland police for engaging in the same type of unlawful acts the troopers are engaging in on the city’s residential streets.
Jackson got his confirmation when the USDOJ confirmed that unlawful acts were being committed by the municipal corporation’s peace officers against its inhabitants after a review of 600 incident reports.
The mayor on behalf of the municipal corporation, and with the legislative authority’s approval, entered a federal consent decree with the United States government on November 6, 2016 to prevent law enforcement officers from engaging in the acts described in the trooper’s memos as they were confirmed to be unlawful and unconstitutional.
Critics believe the unlawful presence of OHP troopers within the municipal corporation of Cleveland has obstructed Jackson’s authority to deliver constitutionally-compliant policing to the inhabitants of the municipal corporation. The racial-profiling nature of the trooper patrols has African American residents to suffer, again, from unlawful stops, unlawful searches of vehicles, unlawful detentions, false reports, violations of rights under the color of law, conspiracy to violate rights under the color of law, violence, disparate and unequal treatment under the color of law.
Some of the judges, according to Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Michael Nelson, have been dismissing citations troopers filed while on criminal patrols inside the municipal corporation of Cleveland. That particular court in City of Cleveland v. Persuad has already decided troopers have no authority on private property off the highways inside municipal corporations.