Ohio Highway Patrol Outlines New Directive On Emergency Calls

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UPDATED: Tuesday March 11, 2014 6:47 PM

A directive from the state highway patrol is raising questions about the way the agency responds to emergency calls.

And they put that directive in writing.

And now that memo sent out to a number of troopers is causing confusion for other law enforcement agencies.

10TV obtained the inter-office communication, sent out December 31st by the Mt. Gilead Post Commander of the Highway Patrol.

It tells troopers of a new division-wide directive that says the patrol will no longer redirect service calls to any sheriff's office.

The IOC goes on to say, "if the Division receives a call for service and has no units available to handle the call, then a neighboring post will be dispatched to handle the incident."

Bob Cornwell with the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association was surprised by the memo and says the intent seemed to jeopardize public safety by possibly increasing response times if closer agencies are not called to a scene.

"I'm somewhat taken aback by that statement that they would not forward any calls to the sheriff's offices," he said. "I'm not really offended, I just question what it means."

“I can tell you when I read that IOC, I had questions as well, cause that's not in line with our policy or how we operate," said Lt. Anne Ralston with the Ohio Highway Patrol.

She says the memo does not introduce a new agency-wide policy.

She says the IOC was poorly written.

"We can and do reach out to other law enforcement agencies as appropriate," Ralston said. “If we get calls for service, we need to be going and handling those, and not pawning them off on another agency, and if that was happening, that is not the right way for our people to be operating."

"The intent of that communication was not that we don't want to work with you, it's not that we don't need you, that's absolutely not the case, we all need each other in this," she added.

Cornwell agrees.

“It's all about service to the public," he said.  "If we stick to our duties and assist each other, life is good."

"I think often times at the root of disagreements and misunderstandings is communication,” Ralston said.  “I think this IOC is a good example of that, and I think we just need to do a better job of communicating with each other."

Both groups say it's a two-way street and the Highway Patrol says that relationship in reaching out to other agencies is not going to change, in the best interests of public safety.

The Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association says it has been trying for quite some time to establish written protocols statewide about how each agency should respond and handle service calls and other situations.

Cornwell says he is currently working with the governor's office, which oversees the Highway Patrol, to make this happen and avoid any more confusion down the road.