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Private constables are not law enforcement officers



Published: Wed, July 24, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



La Roi C. Dock is one stubborn man. Despite the arrests of his personnel and warnings from the Youngstown Police Department, the city prosecutor's office, and Municipal Court Judge Elizabeth A. Kobly, Dock just can't get it through his head that his company, Ohio State Police Constable Service, has no law enforcement jurisdiction. Despite Dock's insistence to the contrary, he is not a police chief of a private police department and he can't give his employees police powers.

Dock has two choices: He can have his employees trained as armed security guards and licensed by the state, or he can close his business. Since Dock refuses to take the first option, the legitimate justice system must shut him down.

Somewhere along the line, Dock has confused his company's articles of incorporation from the state with state law regarding who may or may not serve in a law enforcement capacity. Police deparatments are established by municipalities, counties, states and the federal government. Private security guard services and private investigators are duly licensed by the state.

Violates Ohio code

The law makes no provision for a private company employing untrained and unlicensed individuals who wear uniforms with badges, carry guns and hold themselves out to have police powers. In fact, the reverse is true as the Ohio Revised Code states: "No person shall impersonate a peace officer or a private policeman. & quot; Impersonation is described as acting the part of, assuming the identity of, wearing the uniform or any part of the uniform of, or displaying the identification of a police officer to make another person believe that the person in uniform is a police officer.

Furthermore, the law states, "No person, by impersonating a peace officer or a private policeman (one who is licensed), shall arrest or detain any person, search any person, or search the property of any person."

That should make it crystal clear -- for almost everyone but Dock and his misinformed workers.

Dock could incorporate a company he calls the Dock Health Clinic, but that doesn't mean he could hire unlicensed, untrained individuals to provide medical or nursing care. Similarly, he could incorporate a Dock Law Center, but would have no power to send his employees into court to act as attorneys unless they had passed the state bar exam.

Such laws are there to protect the community from those who hold themselves out to be something they aren't. And without a doubt, the community does need to be protected from gun-carrying cop wannabes.

Dock has been fighting legitimate law enforcement for more than a year now. Last September he was convicted of performing security service without a license and placed on a year's probation. Now, five of his employees have been arrested on charges of impersonating a police officer. Since Dock's stated intent is to flout the law, it's time for the court to get tough. He needs to understand that he's not the victim of a conspiracy as he alleges, but rather that he's a victim of his own intransigence.




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