Police Raise Concerns About Highway Patrol's Presence


UPDATED: Thursday July 18, 2013 11:58 PM

After a Southeast Columbus neighborhood raised questions about the Ohio State Highway Patrol's activities on their streets, 10TV heard from others echoing their concerns, including law enforcers.

Lieutenant Steve Cesaro patrols the streets of Perry Township.

"We have islands and pockets in neighborhoods, from the Delaware County line if you go north, and south to Lane Avenue. East to 315, and west to Riverside Drive," Lt. Cesaro said.

The township's layout has his officers crossing paths and territories with several other police agencies.

"We overlap with Columbus, Dublin, Worthington, Arlington and Sharon Township," he said.

But lately he's noticed a new presence on the streets of his community.

"We've had multiple complaints from officers, citizens and residents about the amount of troopers in the area," he said.
      
It was an issue publicly raised Wednesday night by residents of Driving Park.

Residents say troopers are straying from the highway and patrolling neighborhood streets. They said they feel targeted and harassed.

"There seems to be an increase in the ticketing and pull over rate way beyond what the Columbus Police has ever done in this area," said Mike Aaron with the Driving Park Civic Association.

Cesaro says Driving Park is not alone.

"I've had officers come to me and have told me that they've counted as many as 7 or 8 troopers on any given night, just in the area of Sawmill Road, Bethel, Henderson area," he said.

"We tend to see them more in the neighborhoods and more on the suburban and city streets."

Leaving him and his officers perplexed as to what has the highway patrol heading in an apparent new direction.

"Each agency has an area to cover. The response we've gotten is, 'we cover our area, they should cover theirs.' "

For the second time in two days, 10TV asked the Highway Patrol to talk with us on camera about this issue.

Both days, a spokesperson refused, saying the Patrol was working to address the concerns of Driving Park and would be happy to listen to those of Perry Township.
      
Lieutenant Anne Ralston said the Patrol's focus remains the major interstates and thoroughfares, and if they become aware of troopers operating outside of that focus, they will look into that.
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