Thursday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Executive Order 2019-10D and officially established the Governor’s Warrant Task Force. The special committee has a wide mandate to investigate, analyze, and suggest solutions to Ohio’s deeply burdened and onerous open-warrant backlog. The move is the first step to fulfilling one of DeWine’s campaign promises.
According to a recent study by the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio has more than 300,000 open arrest warrants. of these, 23,000 involve some form of violent act or weapons abuse. These numbers are so overwhelming that there is no effective way to analyze or, more importantly, prioritize which warrants should take the highest priority. This means that the most dangerous repeat violent offenders are buried beneath more ubiquitous and benign repeat parking offenders.
The governor noted in his statement:
New warrants are issued every day in this state, piling on top of a growing backlog of old unserved warrants. It is simply impossible for law enforcement to keep up, which threatens the safety of our residents and communities. I’m asking members of this task force to take a good look at this problem and identify options for improving this overwhelmed system.
The task force is comprised of more than twenty members from a wide array of disciplines, the majority of which are either currently serving in a government agency or senior members of local police departments. Ohio is far from the only state struggling to address this problem.
While there are no figures as to how many open-warrants there are nationally, some of our largest states permit a glimpse into just how bad this problem has become. In New York, there are currently more than 1.2 million open-warrants. In 1999, California listed more than 2.5 million open-warrants with 1 million in Los Angeles alone. Many of these violations tend to be for small offenses like automotive violations. Oftentimes, law-abiding citizens have no idea that they have a warrant out for their arrest. For this reason, it’s recommended that citizens voluntarily check with departments, which can easily be done online for free, and ensure they have not been unknowingly charged.
The task force will submit a final report to the Governor, Attorney General, and Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court by June 2019.
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Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio Star. Send tips to [email protected].
Photo “Mike DeWine” by Mike DeWine. Background Photo “Ohio State Capitol” by Alexander Smith. CC BY-SA 3.0.